“We have filled every single hotel room that we have available in the city and county of Denver,” Johnston said at a town-hall meeting last week. “Now, we have the terrible decision that if we don’t start exiting folks, we will have 250 folks that will arrive today or the day after, who don’t have anywhere to go at night.”
Denver suspended immigrant evictions in November due to concerns about cold weather, but that pause ended on Monday, allowing city officials to kick illegals out of shelters if they have stayed in the temporary housing for more than six weeks.
As a result, more than 140 immigrant families were booted from Denver shelters on Monday. Johnston warned another 660 families, totaling 3,000 individuals, will be likewise booted in the coming weeks.
Johnston’s office defended the policy, arguing the city’s resources have been completely overwhelmed by the thousands of illegals who have arrived in Denver over the past several months.
“Our city workers have done heroic work helping newcomers land on their feet and start to build a life in Denver, but we are out of shelter space,” the mayor’s press secretary, Jordan Fuja, said. “We are out of staff and we are facing a budget deficit of up to $180 million to cover sheltering costs.”
Laura Swartz, a spokeswoman for the Denver Department of Finance, said the city is already drawing money out of its contingency reserves to help subsidize immigrant-related costs, but that those funds will only cover costs until April.
If the city doesn’t receive additional funding from the federal government by then, it will have to start cutting essential services, Johnston warned.
“We don’t want to take police officers off the streets,” Johnston told CNN. “We don’t want to take firefighters off the street. We don’t want to not do trash pickup or not have our parks and recreation centers open.”