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  • Writer's pictureVoces Unidas de las Montañas

How to help the unhoused Latino group in Carbondale

Update as of Friday, December 22.

On behalf of all of us at Voces Unidas, thank you for the overwhelming show of support from local residents, businesses, nonprofits and government.

Since news broke of the 80 unhoused Latinos living under the Carbondale bridge, Voces Unidas has been able to mobilize several nonprofits, the Town of Carbondale and other regional governments to coordinate support and begin to address critical needs while also planning for long-term solutions.

We know many people want to help. We will update this blog with new information and more specifics as needs arise.

New arrivals and total population size

The total number of newcomers is now estimated at 150 or more. A total of 125 people have registered with Voces Unidas.

Minors and families

Families keep arriving. We have documented at least 8 minors. All minors came with at least one parent. Most families have been temporarily housed in a hotel. This is a temporary arrangement. Long-term housing is still needed.

Please contact Irene Wittrock at to check on any immediate needs for families.

Shelter capacity

Shelters are desperately needed for about 100-plus people.

The Town of Carbondale has been working on shelters since early November but no government sites have opened yet.

The only shelter to date has been organized by staff from The Third Street Center and Voces Unidas with support from volunteers. The capacity at the Third Street Center shelter is 50 people and does not have showers or a kitchen. This option has always been temporary to give the government time to step in to lead.

The majority of the population sleeps in cars outside because of the lack of shelter.

Voces Unidas needs the Town of Carbondale and regional governments to identify and open temporary shelters with access to running water, bathrooms, showers, and at least refrigeration.

As of the date of this update, Voces Unidas has turned over our day-to-day role at the Third Street Center to the Town of Carbondale. Voces Unidas will continue to provide one staff member to help connect people to resources and also organize resident leadership committees at each shelter site.

Hot meals coordination

Hot meals have been confirmed for most days in December.

If your group/organization wants to support with a hot meal, please contact Irene Wittrock at to schedule and coordinate.

Dinner service must serve at least 30-40 adults between the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Breakfast must be served between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. as most in the group leave to find work early in the morning.

The temporary shelter does not have a kitchen or kitchen supplies. There is no storage or refrigeration. The organization must bring plates and utensils and must be able to take back leftovers.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, we require masks to be worn by volunteers inside the shelter. Hot meals are served by the residents and not volunteers.

Food donations

We can take bottled water and ready-to-eat food items that do not require refrigeration, preparation or can openers/kitchen utensils.

The families being placed in hotels also need access to food. We need nonprofits that specialize in food to support them in their new communities.

Contact Irene Wittrock at to coordinate.

Clothing, and winter gear donations

In November several groups and churches partnered to help outfit most of the individuals with casual and winter clothing and shoeware. It was a great success!

Please continue to make clothing donations to your local church or organization and let them know that you intended it for the Carbondale group.

We will continue to coordinate additional days for churches and organizations to bring their clothing, shoes and jackets to the temporary shelter.

Thanks for your understanding. We are trying to coordinate a better system to receive clothing donations. We want to prevent receiving too many items that the group may not need. We do not have storage to keep items that the group does not need.

There is no drop box as the group is still in a temporary shelter without storage.

Please contact Irene Wittrock at with additional questions.

Long-term housing

Everyone in the group is looking for permanent housing. Many of them already work and have income to pay rent. Because they are new to the state and community, many won't have credit history, utility bills or references. If you have a room or a place for rent, please contact Irene Wittrock at with additional questions.

Several members of the community have offered space in their own homes or a spare bedroom for a temporary arrangement. Voces Unidas has yet to place anyone in a private home. We are still looking for a nonprofit that specializes or has experience managing these type of arrangements to see if they would like to coordinate these offers.

Charitable donations

We encourage those looking to help to make a charitable donation to any of the organizations responding to the crisis.

Voces Unidas has activated its Emergency Assistance Fund to support the immediate response and coordination needs as well as provide some direct assistance in the form of city market cards and other needs. You can donate to our Emergency Assistance Fund here.



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