When the government response to a crisis was too slow, Denver's mayor turned to the Catholic Church for aid.
The mayor of Denver has asked the Catholic Church to help house migrants, as the city continues to experience a surge in new arrivals. It is estimated that around 3,000 migrants arrived in Denver in the weeks leading up to and following Christmas, primarily from Venezuela, but also from other regions of Central and South America.
According to Denverite, the city has already spent $1.1 million on temporary housing accommodations, as well as hotel rooms to keep families together, since December 9. This sum is expected to more than double, approaching $3 million between February and March. With limited resources to direct towards the crisis, Mayor Michael Hancock has appealed to the Archdiocese of Denver for aid.
In a letter to Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Hancock wrote that the government’s response to the “temporary crisis” has been too slow, but he thinks the Catholics may work faster:
“The lack of an adequate government response is what leads me to renew a call I made to communities of faith and other non-governmental charities to help address dire human needs and a steady migration of people to our city. Thankfully, we’ve been fortunate to find such partners and I have been gratified by the dedication of so many volunteers and city employees who have given time and effort to support our response to this emergency.”
In particular, Hancock suggested that a vacant building which was recently closed by the Little Sisters of the Poor, owned by the archdiocese, “could accommodate 100 people comfortably.” He noted that the city has already outfitted no less than three city recreation centers to become temporary housing facilities. He noted that the building would be put to use “for the short-term goal of assisting migrant families in need during the winter months.”
Hancock also welcomed any ways in which “the archdiocese and holy Catholic community may want to engage with the city in addressing this challenge.” The mayor also praised Catholic Charities (Samaritan House) which has taken in 9 families of migrants.
Along with Catholic Charities, Catholic communities have stepped up to contend with the crisis. According to Westword, on the night of December 29, the city could only provide shelter to 770 migrants, leaving some 716 people without a warm place to go. Catholic churches, as well as a few non-profits, opened their doors to the 716 migrants, and kept them from freezing on a 25 degree night.