Today, the Joint Budget Committee approved an interim supplemental for $5 million to the Department of Public Safety to help build capacity in community-based organizations throughout the state to support recent arrivals to Colorado.
Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, who has partnered with Voces Unidas to support the new arrivals in Carbondale, secured support from the Governor, House leadership, and the JBC members for additional funding to support rural communities with the response to the new arrivals.
Voces Unidas CEO Alex Sánchez provided testimony to the JBC. His comments are below:
December 20, 2023
Madam Chair, and members of the Joint Budget Committee:
My name is Alex Sánchez. I am the founder and CEO of Voces Unidas de las Montañas and Voces Unidas Action Fund, two Latino advocacy organizations working in Lake, Summit, Eagle, Pitkin, and Garfield counties. I am submitting comments in support of the interim supplemental funding of $5 million to the Department of Public Safety to help build capacity in community-based organizations throughout the state to support recent arrivals to Colorado.
The organizations I direct specialize in advocacy, not human services. But since learning of the first wave of unhoused Venezuelans arriving in Carbondale six weeks ago, we have found ourselves on the front lines of this crisis, working to provide shelter and other services to this vulnerable group of people simply because no other organization – local and state government included – was prepared to do so.
To date, we have identified more than 125 newcomers, including women and children, who have made the Roaring Fork Valley their new home. Half of the group is in a volunteer-led shelter and the other half still sleeps outside in cars, regardless of the weather. And we get new arrivals on a daily basis.
Our local municipalities and nonprofits lack adequate resources to respond to crises of this magnitude. The state needs to allocate additional funding to provide much-needed support to local governments and human service organizations.
Carbondale is not alone. Many other rural communities, including Steamboat, Breckenridge and Vail, have been receiving newcomers for months. All of these communities would benefit greatly from having adequate resources to be able to respond in more effective and humane ways.
While we continue the long-term pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform as an organization, we also must face the influx of new arrivals becoming part of our mountain-town communities in the meantime. Please vote yes so that our towns can serve new arrivals coming to our communities.
President and CEO