EL PASO, Texas (KVIA)-- Officials with the City of El Paso confirmed they have been using local hotels to house some migrants since late November. This comes as the city continues to see an uptick in migrants coming into our community.
According to the city migrant dashboard, Customs and Border Protection is apprehending roughly 1,000 migrants a day. Migrants coming into our community are mostly single adults from Venezuela, but officials are also encountering family units.
Deputy City Manager Mario D'Agostino told ABC-7 the city was forced to activate hotels last month. Between 20 to 40 migrants are moved to hotels each night. The city also has a team roving the streets.
D'Agostino explained these are migrants who weren't able to stay in migrant shelters downtown because they are overcapacity. The deputy city manager said migrants are typically able to arrange their travel during their stay in l Paso, which is why they only remain there for one night.
He also explained why the city has turned to local hotels for housing during this time instead of the former Morehead Middle School.
In late September, Morehead Middle was purchased for $3.8 million by the City of El Paso. The city previously said it would be used as an emergency shelter that could accommodate up to 500 migrants. However, the former EPISD school still needs to undergo some renovations.
D'Agostino said they are currently working on putting up a fence around the property, updating the roof and inspecting some systems. He said it is more economical right now to use hotels instead of the former school.
"Hotels are just a lot easier to operate. A lot safer. It's a lot cleaner for health, especially right now with the colder weather. A lot of people with colds and the flu coming in, you know, you want to keep that isolation. So when you have them in hotels, it's just that safer environment. It's a lot more cost-effective to do," he said.
D'Agostino said the city will reopen the school once migrant numbers start to rise.
"Until we start seeing probably about 500 migrants per night into the hotel system, we won't transition over to the school, but that's a balance that we're just more monitoring at this point. Like I said, I think the most we've housed so far is right in the forties, mid-forties," he said.
John Martin, the Deputy Director of the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, said his shelter has been operating at overcapacity.
"We are still starting to see an increase. This increase has been going on now for a little over a week," Martin said.
He said they expect this rising trend to continue.
"We are hoping that we're wrong. As we see the numbers increase at this point, maybe they will drop off a little bit so that they're a bit more manageable. But if last winter is any indication of what we're going to see this winter, I think we would be remiss if we didn't start forecasting additional need at this point," he said.