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Garfield BOCC denies additional migrant funding to Town of Carbondale

 During this week’s Garfield County Commissioners meeting, the Town of Carbondale requested $50,000 to help with its unhoused migrant community. Recovery Resources is managing the shelters for now, but town representatives are concerned about the effect on the overall community and tourism once the shelters close at the end of March and people are back to camping. The Town hopes to set-up a coalition with other regional groups to manage resources for unhoused individuals in the area. Mayor Ben Bohmfalk spoke about what draws migrants to Carbondale and offered a response to dissenters who say that the town is enabling them or enticing more new arrivals with services.

"Bohmfalk: Our understanding of why the destination became Carbondale. It had nothing to do with services that were being provided. People were coming because it's actually in the unincorporated county, right on the border of Carbondale. There's a popular day labor kind of pickup spot. There's, um, the boat ramp and the bridge that's, you know, hard to regulate and see everybody and what's going on. And so people sort of started accumulating there over the summer."

Carbondale’s response coordinator, Rob Stein, mentioned other complications.

"Stein: Part of it is transportation services and it's legal services because many of these folks qualify for temporary protective status. Unfortunately, it's months if not more than a year so that they're in limbo while legally they're technically here and eligible for work. So we're trying to buy them a little time so that they can become incorporated legally into the workforce."

The commissioners commented on the issue, with Commissioner Tom Jankovsky choosing to politicize it, referring to the movement of migrants over the southern border as a "invasion". Commissioner John Martin was unimpressed.

"Martin: They're in every community outside the cities come into the city at hand handling and they're living in tents. They're living again, cars, etc. We already have that. We have kids that live in cars to go to school. It is nothing new to us. However, the impact on Carbondale and their park and the trail to Mushroom Rock and what have you, and your boat ramps, that's a blight, but it's Carbondale's blight too. They own that property now. We transferred ownership to you. So what it amounts to is, you've got a homeless population just like we do, outside the cities, and we have to deal with that."

In the end, the commissioners unanimously denied the funds, although Jankovsky made a point to acknowledge the “benevolence” of the people of Carbondale. Tuesday’s commissioner’ meeting is available at the Garfield County website . KDNK News will continue to follow this ever-evolving issue.

Audio read by Amy Hadden Marsh.

Hattison Rensberry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Drawing, but has worked for newsrooms in various capacities since 2019.
She also provides Editorial Design for the Sopris Sun.