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Handful of migrants choose to battle bitter cold in Denver encampment

migrant encampment - monday january 15, 2024 - north denver.jpg
Posted at 8:18 AM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 10:18:42-05

DENVER — A handful of migrants who did not want to stay in city shelters are battling the bitter cold in an encampment in north Denver.

“We really want people to be inside. That's where they're supposed to be right now,” said Amy Beck, an advocate for people experiencing homelessness.

Beck is among a group of volunteers that's helping the migrants.

“We are keeping them safe while they go through this, really, their first serious storm as they experience this and understand what the weather can be like in Colorado,” said Beck.

The city moved many migrants indoors before the cold weather arrived, but Beck said a small group of them refused to go.

“For various reasons, people either don't want to or can't go inside,” said Beck. “I'm not going to force them. I can't force them to do that. What we can do is just keep them safe.”

Beck said many migrants don’t like the idea of living in a congregate setting with many different people surrounding them, leaving little space for privacy.

Eight to 10 migrants staying at the encampment were sleeping in their tents when Denver7 visited Monday morning. Beck and other advocates check on them often and show them how to stay as warm as possible.

“Everyone understands in the camp to use the hand warmers and feet warmers,” Beck said. “They're all wearing three pairs of feet warmers per foot.”

Beck said volunteers also set up warming tents for them.

Beck expects the encampment, which is located in an area away from the view of most people, will grow as soon as the city’s severe weather shelters close and people staying at those shelters return to the streets.

“We're expecting that that could be up to a couple hundred people,” Beck said.

A spokesperson with the City and County of Denver said the number of migrants arriving in Denver has slowed in the last few days, likely due to the winter weather. They expect numbers to go back up once the cold weather moves out.

As for Beck, she knows more winter weather will eventually come. She said most of the migrants, who are from Central and South America, likely won’t be prepared.

“They haven't experienced this in the past. And so, they really don't have any concept of how bad it can be,” said Beck.

She hopes it won’t be as brutal as what the region is experiencing now.

Beck said the group of advocates she is working with does not need any more donations at this time.

"We have enough tents and blankets and enough gear, enough heat to keep people going for right now," said Beck.

Handful of migrants choose to battle bitter cold in Denver encampment

Here's how you can help refugees and immigrants coming to Denver

If you’d like to help as the city responds to this migrant crisis, you can do so with donations — either material or monetary. If opting for the former, the city is asking for the following items:

  • Socks (new/unopened only)
  • Bras - small/medium/large
  • Women’s clothing - small/medium/large
  • Men’s clothing - small/medium
  • Winter hats - gender neutral and kids/one size fits all
  • Winter gloves - men's, women's and kids/small and medium sizes
  • Scarves - various sizes
  • Closed toed or winter shoes for children
  • Closed toed or winter shoes for women sizes 4, 5, 6 and 7

Those items can be dropped off at the following locations:
Community Ministry
1755 S. Zuni St. Denver, CO 80223
Monday - Thursday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Para Ti Mujer
150 Sheridan Blvd. Suite 200 Lakewood, CO 8O226
Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Colorado Changemakers Collective
12075 E. 45th Ave. Denver, CO 80239
Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Before heading out the door though, please call ahead to ask about any specific instructions for drop-off.

If you want to donate your time, you can donate money to the Newcomers Fund.