DENVER (KDVR) — As of mid-October, 24,415 migrants have passed through city shelters during 2023 at a total cost of over $28 million, according to the Common Sense Institute’s newly released analysis of Denver’s Migrant Sheltering and Support Services.
Shortening the length of stay for migrants both with and without children will also not help lower the price tag, the institute reported.
The report provides a snapshot of services migrants arriving from the U.S.-Mexico border can use in Denver, as well as how it’s impacting the city’s finances. The institute reported that about $15 million, or 54%, of migrant support services costs remained unaccounted for in October.
“Decisions at the federal level dominate migrant policies in our capital city,” said Kelly Caufield, CSI executive director. “Our goal is to quantify those decisions and measure the impact on Denver and Colorado. Since December 2022, migrants arriving from the nation’s southern border have cost $28 million in city services.”
CSI reported that as of Oct. 16, Denver Human Services has encountered a total of 24,415 migrants, including 18,519 who spent at least one day in the city’s shelters. On average, migrants stay in shelters for 18 days, according to CSI. The number of migrants staying in Denver shelters each day has fallen slightly in the past week — instead of averaging over 3,000 migrants, numbers have fallen into the 2,000s.
By Monday, Oct. 23, the city of Denver reported 25,209 total migrants who had come in contact with services, and 2,469 people were sheltered, but not in city facilities.
Migrant services have a hefty price tag
Denver was reimbursed for $3.5 million from the state of Colorado, and the federal government has provided $909,000 to support migrants in Colorado, according to the city of Denver. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that Denver will receive $8.6 million in federal funding.
The Common Sense Institute is projecting a cost estimate of between $36.3-39.1 million for the city of Denver by the end of 2023. This estimate reflects a 30-40% cost increase (between $8.3 million and $11.1 million).
According to CSI’s report, the majority of Denver’s migrant spending is for overhead costs, such as rent and staff salaries.
Earlier this month, Denver officials decided to shorten the maximum stay length for some individuals to help relieve shelter occupancy, but that will likely only result in minor cost reductions, CSI reported.
However, between Sept. 16-Oct. 16, Denver saw three times as many migrants as the year-to-date average of 74 individuals each day arriving. According to the city government’s dashboard of migrant sheltering and support data, there were 3,051 migrants in official shelters on Oct. 16 and an average of 232 new migrants arrived each day from Sept. 16-Oct. 16.
CSI’s new report noted that the incurred cost is beyond “normal budgeted expenses,” and although costs are “currently being covered by contingency funds and partially reimbursed by external grants,” CSI warned of failing to fund other priorities or increasing the cost of Denver’s government “—a cost that Denverites have to pay,” CSI stated.
Help wanted for Denver migrant sheltering
Financial donations can be made to the Newcomers Fund.
Donations of essential items are needed, but appointments are encouraged. To schedule a donation drop-off appointment, call (303) 514-0643.