More than $770,000 has been given to immigrant families in the Roaring Fork Valley by area nonprofits during the current coronavirus pandemic. Since most families Valley Settlement and MANAUS work with are undocumented, many are ineligible for emergency financial assistance during this time.
Sally Boughton, Valley Settlement’s assistant director of development, said they are working to support families financially as much as they can. Still, there are about 1,500 applicants that her organization cannot help.
“We are running on fumes right now and we can’t hold this alone,” she said. “We really need the public sector to step up and recognize that this is a great need in our community.”
Some county governments, like Pitkin County, offer financial assistance to help with the effects of COVID-19 to anyone, regardless of legal status. Garfield County does not offer monetary aid to undocumented residents.
“[Local undocumented families] don’t have access to the stimulus, they can’t file for unemployment, they don’t have access to Garfield County’s emergency funds,” Boughton said. “There really is no safety net for them.”
That gap in support led Valley Settlement to conduct two surveys, one in March and one in April, to ask their clients what they are experiencing during the pandemic and in what ways they need help.
The organization found that 87% of those surveyed are unemployed.
“Because these families don’t have access to those traditional safety nets, they could be losing their shelter,” Boughton said. “Not having access to those public supports puts these families in a really vulnerable and scary position.”