Newcomer and Migrant Support

This page offers updates and resources about the City and County of Denver’s response to the influx of Newcomers from the southern border. Scroll down this page and use the navigation buttons to learn more about ways to get involved, find resources for Newcomers, read updates for media, and connect with community partners.

Newcomers Playbook

Denver’s Newcomers Playbook shares best practices and procedures with other cities who may be interested in assisting individuals arriving from the U.S. southern border. 

Download the Newcomers Playbook(PDF, 801KB)

Updates

Denver Kicks Off WorkReady Classes for Asylum Seekers (June 13)

June 13, 2024 - Mayor Mike Johnston and Denver Economic Development & Opportunity today announced 350 individuals have enrolled in the WorkReady Denver Program. Classes began this week.  

WorkReady Denver, a component of the Denver Asylum Seekers Program (DASP), is a pilot program created to help newcomers get on the path to legal work while building a talent pipeline for industries experiencing significant labor shortages. This initiative combines classroom learning, industry-recognized credentialing and unpaid internship opportunities to connect newcomers to job readiness training and experiential learning as they await federal work authorization after completing their asylum application. Industries include restaurant/hospitality, retail, warehouse/logistics, construction, manufacturing, healthcare and early childhood education.  At least one adult per household enrolled in DASP has committed to 20 hours of weekly WorkReady training. 

The City and County of Denver has contracted with Centro de los Trabajadores (Centro) to administer the program. Pending work authorization and completion of the WorkReady program, Centro has committed to helping place at least 70% of WorkReady participants into fulltime employment with an average wage of $20/hour.  

Denver has served more than 42,000 people from the southern border since Dec. 2022. In April, Mayor Johnston announced a first-of-its-kind strategy to address the migrant crisis by pivoting from short-term shelter to long-term, comprehensive support for individuals staying in the city’s shelter system. The city currently has 800 individuals enrolled in the Denver Asylum Seekers Program, which in addition to workforce training provides assistance with housing, food, transportation and applying for asylum. Individuals will take part in the program for around six months, at which point they are expected to receive federal work authorization and become self-sufficient.  

Classes will be held online and in person at Centro San Juan Diego and the Community College of Denver (CCD) and will be led by Centro de los Trabajadores, Centro San Juan Diego, and CCD. Courses will be split into two semesters, with the first covering ESL, digital literacy, and workers’ rights and the second focused on industry specific training. To address issues of equity and ensure success in the program, AT&T has generously contributed 700 laptop computers and more than $90,000 in funding directly to Centro to provide digital literacy coursework. The city will also provide families with access to cell phones.

Donations

Thanks to the overwhelming support of the community, most items are not needed at this time. Donors should call 303-514-0643 to see how they can best be of assistance and to schedule an appointment before dropping off donations.

Posted March 4, 2024 - Anyone wishing to drop off donations may do so at the Richard T. Castro Human Services Center at 1200 N. Federal Boulevard. Donations are accepted only at the garage doors on the north side of the building from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday.

Visit the Get Involved section of this page for directions and additional wayfinding information. 

Those who wish to help should also consider giving to the Newcomers Fund. Donations go directly to the city’s nonprofit partners who are supporting migrants with resource navigation, work authorization, shelter and other services. You can also help by volunteering to support the response.

Archive

April 2024

Denver Announces Update to Newcomer Services Program

April 10, 2024 - Denver Mayor Mike Johnston today announced the first step in providing a long-term, sustainable response to the newcomer crisis.

The new Denver Asylum Seekers Program will open its doors to the approximately 1,000 people currently in the city’s newcomer shelter system. All of these individuals are potential asylum seekers, meaning they have to wait at least 180 days after applying for asylum to receive work authorization.

Individuals in the program will be connected to housing assistance options for up to six months from the date of their asylum application. Participants will also be connected with an innovative pre-work authorization readiness program, called WorkReady. There they can collaborate with case managers to ensure they are moving on the right track and be connected with workforce training opportunities via partnership with non-profits, local businesses, educational institutions and training organizations. The program also includes access to language instruction, career pathway explorations, industry-recognized credential training and work-based learning opportunities.

The Denver Asylum Seekers Program is limited to people currently within the city’s hotel shelter system, as well as families receiving bridge housing through a partnership with Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Denver. Individuals arriving in Denver after April 10 will be provided a short-term stay at a congregate site along with assistance securing onward travel to another destination. Newcomers who choose to remain in Denver may utilize available local and community support.

Denver Continues Shelter Consolidation

April 1, 2024 - The City and County of Denver today announced it will close additional hotels utilized to shelter newcomers.

Denver is currently sheltering 730 people, down from a high of nearly 5,000 in January. At that time, the city was operating seven hotel shelters. Since then, the number of new daily arrivals and the overall shelter population has steadily declined. Over the past month, the city has consolidated sheltering operations by closing three of the newcomer hotels, with plans to close three of the four remaining hotel shelters this week. In addition, one of two congregate shelters closed on Saturday. The city continues to partner with the Archdiocese of Denver and Catholic Charities to provide bridge housing for a limited number of families with children.

As of Monday, April 1, 2024, Denver has supported 40,295 newcomers from the southern border at a cost of more than $63 million.

March 2024

Discharges, Donation Drop Off Paused During Cold Weather Shelter Activation (Posted March 13)

With a winter storm approaching, the Denver Department of Housing Stability (HOST) is opening severe weather shelter from 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 13 to 9 a.m. Saturday, March 16 at the McNichols Civic Center Building, 144 W. Colfax Ave. and the Stone Creek shelter (former Best Western hotel), 4595 Quebec St. People experiencing homelessness should walk up to the locations directly. Individuals with pets are directed to go to the Stone Creek shelter, which is accepting pets. Additionally, there will be no mandatory discharges from newcomer shelters while the activation is in effect. Donations will also not be accepted at the Richard T. Castro building at 1200 Federal on either Thursday or Friday.

Cold weather poses a serious danger to people who are unsheltered and the city encourages people to come inside.

Individuals in need of shelter can also be referred to the city’s “front door” shelter access points (denvergov.org/findshelter), which are also expanding their capacity for the cold weather. Front door shelters include:

  • For individual men – Lawrence Street Community Center, 2222 Lawrence St.
  • For individual women – Samaritan House, 2301 Lawrence St.
  • For youth ages 15-20 – Urban Peak, 2100 Stout St.
  • Families in need of shelter should call the Connection Center at 303-295-3366.

For more information about shelter access, visit denvergov.org/findshelter.

Denver Parks and Recreation will open all currently operating recreation centers as daytime warming centers during regular business hours on Thursday, March 14 and Friday, March 15, for people who need a place to warm up. Each center will have a designated area available for warming, with access to drinking water, restrooms, and a place to sit.

While not designated as warming centers, open Denver Public Library locations are available to the public as an indoor reprieve from the cold and snow. Double-check library hours in advance:denverlibrary.org/locations.


February 2024

Denver Consolidates Migrant Shelters

February 28, 2024 | Denver today announced the consolidation of newcomer shelter operations from seven hotels to three by early April as part of the city’s strategy to move newcomers from shelter to stability. Individuals staying at the four shelters will be relocated to other facilities or stable housing.

As the number of new arrivals and the overall shelter population have declined over the last month, the city, nonprofits and community members have developed a successful four-part strategy:

  • Resumption of length-of-stay limits for all shelter guests (14 days for individuals and 42 days for families with children).
  • Intentional and supportive case management, resource navigation and housing assistance, with an emphasis on preventing people from ending up on the streets.
  • Hosting work authorization clinics, which over the past two weeks have supported 600 newcomers, with additional clinics scheduled in the days ahead to assist another 700 people.
  • Continuing to offer travel options to other locations.

As of today, 2,300 people are in city-run shelters and an average of 30 are arriving daily. These numbers are down from a high of nearly 5,000 people in shelters and more than 200 arrivals per day in December and January Consolidating facilities will make it easier for nonprofits and staff to manage shelter operations and work with individuals and families. Additionally, the city will continue to partner with the Archdiocese of Denver to offer bridge housing to a limited number of families.

Nonprofits and city staff will work with guests to address any possible disruptions for those transitioning out of the closed shelters.

Work Authorization Clinics (Posted Feb. 16)

The City and County of Denver organized federal work authorization clinics this week for nearly 400 migrant newcomers. Through these clinics, local non-profits, volunteers, and city staff assisted newcomers in filing the necessary paperwork to receive federal work permits. Pre-screenings to determine eligibility were held in city-run shelters ahead of two large-scale clinics at the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building on Thursday and Friday.

Denver is currently sheltering more than 3,000 people and is working diligently to connect individuals with housing, work authorization, job opportunities, and onward travel. While this week’s clinics will help hundreds of people toward self-sustainability, a great number of individuals arriving in Denver remain ineligible for work permits and as a result do not have reliable means of supporting themselves. Denver continues to call on the federal government to address this inequity by expanding access to work authorization and providing additional funding to cities managing the migrant response. 

The city is grateful to the many partners who made these clinics possible, including the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Denver Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships (HRCP), City Attorney’s Office (CAO), Denver Human Services (DHS), Lutheran Family Services, Catholic Charities, Colorado Lawyers Committee, Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Center (JAMLAC), as well as volunteers from within the city and community.

Cold Weather Shelter Activation (Posted Feb. 9)

With forecasted cold weather and possible snow arriving this weekend, Mayor Mike Johnston, in collaboration with City Council, is activating a pilot to provide around-the-clock, 24/7 cold weather shelter from 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9 through 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 16 at the Denver Coliseum, 4600 N Humboldt St.

People experiencing homelessness should walk up to the location directly. Denver will not discharge individuals from migrant shelters while the activation is in effect, though people may choose to leave if they have found other accommodations. 

Individuals in need of shelter can also be referred to the city’s “front door” shelter access points, listed on the City and County of Denver's Find Shelter page and in the list below. These access points are also expanding their capacity for the cold weather. Front door shelters include:

  • For individual men – Lawrence Street Community Center, 2222 Lawrence St.
  • For individual women – Samaritan House, 2301 Lawrence St.
  • For youth ages 15-20 – Urban Peak, 2100 Stout St.
  • Families in need of shelter should call the Connection Center at 303-295-3366.

January 2024

Length of Stay Policy

Jan. 17, 2024 - The City and County of Denver will resume discharging migrant families with children from city-run facilities while also extending its previous length-of-stay policy for families. The changes will begin in February and will be rolled out over a period of several weeks.

The city will provide all newly arriving families with children with up to six weeks (42 days) in shelter, up from the previous limit of 37 days. This timeframe is in line with best practices as it relates to attaining housing. Length-of-stay for individuals without children will remain two weeks (14 days). This policy takes effect on Feb 5.

The city will also begin discharging migrant guests again under the following policy:

  • Those who do not qualify for the shelter program but have been admitted since family discharges were paused in November will be discharged on Feb. 5. Individuals must be in the U.S. for fewer than 30 days before coming to Denver and have an Alien Registration Number to qualify for Denver’s shelter program.
  • Those who had previously timed out of the shelter program but were readmitted during the pause will be discharged on either Feb. 5 or Feb. 6.
  • Families with children who entered shelter on Oct. 12, 2023 or later will begin discharges on Feb. 7. Discharges will be based on arrival date and occur in rolling fashion, with every family receiving a written notification of their discharge date. All families with children will have received at least 42 days in shelter, with some families having been provided as long as four months.

We encourage all newcomers to Denver to begin forming a long-term plan once they enter shelter. While Denver remains a welcoming city, resources are limited and we cannot provide shelter for indefinite periods of time. Denver will continue to connect newcomers with nonprofits and other available resources during their stay.

Zuni St. Encampment Closure

The City of Denver took action in early January 2024 to provide significant aid and support to migrants experiencing homelessness. The migrants, who were living at a large encampment in the area of Zuni and 26th, were experiencing unsafe conditions and were in need of better solutions for long-term success. As a result, Denver is taking the following steps at this encampment:

  • Assisting individuals in applying for housing while covering first month’s rent, deposit, and security fees for those who are already working. Denver can provide up to three month’s rent for those still seeking employment. As of January 2, around 100 people had already secured housing through this strategy.
  • Opening two congregate shelter sites as well as creating space for families at a third location. Congregate shelters include space for limited storage, shower trailers, and additional sanitation services. Crucially, these sites also allow to better engage with individuals as they work to obtain housing and employment.
  • Providing onward travel – largely in the form of bus tickets – to individuals who no longer wish to stay in Denver.

Much of the funding that made this effort possible was provided by City Council and strategies like these, while effective, are not feasible for the full population currently being served by the city. Denver continues to call on the federal government for significantly more funding, coordination and access to work authorization.

48th and Fox Encampment

Jan. 11, 2024 – The City of Denver provided shelter to migrants living in an encampment near 48th and Fox Thursday, a move made possible by recent success in housing newcomers experiencing homelessness and spurred by dangerously cold temperatures. Individuals will be offered 30 days in congregate shelter and connected with resources.

Individuals were able to take two large bags of items with them, with other belongings being stored offsite. Advocates are assisting in gathering and storing salvageable items ahead of the encampment being resolved on Jan. 18.

 

File a Complaint About Migrant Services

Use this form to file a complaint about migrant services. Your response will be sent to the Denver Human Services (DHS) Complaint Resolution Liaison and will be kept confidential to the extent possible to resolve the complaint.

Utilice este formulario para presentar una queja sobre los servicios para migrantes. Su respuesta se enviará al enlace de resolución de quejas del Departamento de Servicios Humanos de Denver (DHS) y se mantendrá confidencial en la medida de lo posible para resolver la queja.

File a Complaint About Migrant Services | Presente una queja sobre los servicios para migrantes

Language Access

It is your right to access oral or written language assistance, sign language interpretation, real-time captioning via CART, or disability-related accommodations. To request any of these services at no cost to you, please email DHSADASupport@denvergov.org with three business days’ notice.