Watch CBS News

Denver considers giving immigrants, refugees financial assistance using $3 million in ARPA funds

Denver considers giving immigrants, refugees financial assistance using $3 million in ARPA funds
Denver considers giving immigrants, refugees financial assistance using $3 million in ARPA funds 02:34

The City of Denver could give millions of dollars to help immigrant and refugee families. The plan is to give cash assistance to people greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Denver City Council has already given initial approval. Upwards of 2,000 families will be able to benefit from this program if approved next Monday.

The American Friends Service Committee, Denver Immigrant Rights Program says the disproportionate impacts are significant, and this would be an important step to help with this.

During the pandemic, thousands of undocumented immigrants in Denver were on the front lines, working physical jobs despite the consequences.

Denver City Councilwoman Jamie Torres, who supports this effort, says the aftermath of COVID is still lingering, but it is especially seen in these communities.

"The most impacted based on data are along our inverted out, along our west side and north side, all the way through Montebello communities which typically come up on a lot of radars," said Torres.

She adds, "When you think about COVID, it was also where we saw the most disproportionate COVID impact, so it's no surprise these are the families that are still struggling." 

Gabriela Flora, director of the Denver Immigrant Rights program for the American Friends Service Committee saw those impacts firsthand.

"If I got sick, I could take time off and I knew I still had a paycheck, and so those disproportionate impacts are significant, and they continue to play out," said Flora.

Torres says this is similar to the Left Behind Workers Fund which the City of Denver and philanthropic partners funded and distributed $38 million to people who could not legally get federal aid.


"My family was able to get relief because we benefit from our tax system. There are certainly families who work, who pay into that system, who don't get to benefit from it and that's who it was set up for. We know it made an impact, so being able to come back with ARPA dollars helps," said Torres.

Flora agrees it did help, but these are the families that are still struggling to bounce back. Some may be getting evicted, others having to move from the city of Denver due to skyrocketing rent prices.

 "A lot of our undocumented members were out doing essential work, doing the jobs that needed it to be done, putting themselves at risk... and getting COVID."

Families who were not able to receive federal benefits such as stimulus checks and at least have one child under the age of 17 years old could qualify to get a one-time check of up to $1500. And it comes at a time when many families are seen still struggling.

"People are continuing to play catch up and it's not because they are not working hard in fact those folks are working super hard, it's because they don't have the safety net that many of us have," said Flora.

If approved on Monday, a group will be setting up an eligibility site for those interested.

The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs will be sending this out. Torres adds this is not just for immigrants and refugee families, but struggling families with children would be able to apply.

Council will vote on Monday, July 10.


•             Why is the city of Denver considering providing help to these families?

As a part of Denver's ongoing efforts to mitigate the negative financial impact of the pandemic throughout the city, the Denver Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships has endeavored to establish a project for Denver families, with at least one child, who were impacted due to COVID 19 or its aftermath and who are ineligible for public benefit assistance. While circumstances can vary, in general, household's ineligible for public benefit assistance are those unable to apply due to their current immigration status. 

To this end, HRCP's Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs, which works closely with nonprofits, community-based organizations, residents, and government agencies to provide support to and develop policies, practices and programs that influence the various paths of immigrant integration, and the City and County of Denver will partner with Impact Charitable, a nonprofit organization, to establish the cash assistance program with the goal of providing a one-time payment to eligible families residing in the City and County of Denver. This program aims to reduce the financial instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, improve financial security, and support families in meeting basic needs required to thrive.

•             What steps are next for this proposal? 

Next steps is the approval by City Council, the contract is finalized and signed, and appropriate training for our community-based partners who will assist with the community outreach process and screening of eligible applicants. The estimated timeline is mid-August.

•             How will the city choose the families they will help?

Based on the continued needs that were discovered as a result of the Denver Left Behind Worker's Fund, this program will utilize trusted community partners with experience to conduct outreach and screening of eligible Denver residents. Community partners may use a combination of both bilingual staff and/or interpreters and translators to conduct outreach.

•             How many families will benefit?

The estimated number of families who will benefit from this program are from 1,800 to 2,200 and approximately 4,200 living in those grantee households.

•             Who qualifies?

City and County of Denver families impacted by COVID-19 and its aftermath, specifically the head of household, who is ineligible for federally funded public benefits, and with at least one child 17 years of age or under residing in the household.

•             How can families apply?

The selected trusted community partners will be conducting outreach in those communities where they work very closely with and serve many of those families that might be eligible for this cash assistance program. These families will need to be screened by our trusted partners to determine their eligibility, based on the factors outlined; Denver families, with at least one child, who were impacted due to COVID-19 or its aftermath and who are ineligible for public benefit assistance. In addition to the one-time cash assistance payment of $1000, some families may be eligible for an additional $500 based on other factors related to an inability to address basic household needs will also be determined.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.