DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Mayor Mike Johnston is back from the nation’s capital, where he and other mayors urged the federal government to provide more help for the migrant crisis.
The city reports that 51 migrants arrived in Denver just Friday. Since December, more than 26,000 have been served by the city, and almost 2,000 are in shelters. The state of Texas just announced it has bused 6,600 migrants to Denver since May 18.
At the same time, the mayor’s still pushing ahead with his plan to house 1,000 homeless people by the end of the year. He took some time to talk to FOX31 about the entangled emergencies.
Johnston acknowledged Friday the city is in the middle of a dual crisis, but he’s optimistic the city can tackle both and still meet goals.
“We’re able to address both of these right now, and we are,” Johnston said about the dual crises.
Fresh off his trip from the White House, where he and other mayors requested more funding to help with the influx of migrants, the mayor said things still went well, despite President Joe Biden not being there.
“I think it was very productive. We had good conversations with the White House, Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, with Tom Perez, who runs the migrant response. Met with senators on the Hill, met with House members on the Hill, so we thought it was a very positive step forward and we’re excited about the path,” Johnston said.
How many served in Denver mayor’s House1000 plan?
The mayor’s goal for migrants, as he has mentioned before, is to make sure they have access to resources and pathways to work if they are going to stay in the city. But with some migrants finding themselves without shelter amid the city’s ongoing work to house 1,000 people by the end of the year, has the city’s plan hit a snag?
“We know this strategy is working,” Johnston said. “We’re working to bring on more and more units to be able to make that possible for us to get to a thousand, but we also know this is not some magical finish line on Dec. 31 where homelessness is over. These are the first thousand. We’ve already committed our budget to housing another thousand next year, but we know we have more than 1,500 right now, so the work will continue well after Dec. 31.”
As of Friday, the city’s only been able to house a little more than 200 people with under two months left in the year. A micro-community site was also taken off the list this week as a place to develop housing for people, but the mayor insisted the location was not removed solely because neighbors did not want it there.
“The process is we present sites, we do community meetings, we get feedback, we look at the permitting requirements, we get neighborhood feedback, and we’re always sourcing more sites. We know we are going to be adding more sites in 2024 as well, so our focus is on what sites we know will go in 2023 to get ready in the next now 60 days. That’s a short amount of time to prep, build and lay construction on a site,” Johnston said.
Equity was an original goal of the micro-community development. The mayor said it remains a goal to ensure there is one in every council by the end of 2024.