EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- As the borderland continues to grapple with the migrant crisis ahead of the lifting of Title 42, other at-risk populations are taking a direct hit.
"We're very concerned about displacing the local homeless population with regard to the large number of migrants that have come in," said John Martin, Director of the Opportunity Center for the Homeless. The center is one of the largest operations supporting local homeless individuals in El Paso, but high numbers of asylum seekers are seeking security at the center's three shelters, leading to less room for the homeless.
"Because of those large number of individuals, it was not that we were saying no to the local homeless population, but they themselves saw such a large crowd and it was pushing them away. And so they weren't even walking in the door at that point," said Martin.
Martin said the center has several outreach programs to help encourage local homeless individuals to come into the center's shelters. One of those partnerships is with the Amistad's El Paso Helps initiative, which focuses solely on the local homeless. That charity, however, is also being impacted by the crisis.
"Many times the shelters tend to be at or near maximum capacity, which makes it very difficult for local individual who are experiencing homelessness to be transported to a shelter, right? Because sometimes there's just no room for them," said Amistad Community Relations Manager Kristina Pena. "If they cannot go to a shelter. At the very least, we provide them clothing if needed. Because, you know, we did this back during the colder months. So we provided jackets, we provided sleeping bags for them. There was absolutely no room for them in a shelter. And what we do is we keep a backlog and we follow up with local shelters every single day. Okay. I have an adult male who needs shelter. X shelter can now take him. So let's go ahead and get him transported."