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Relief fund still short in the South Bay, here’s how you can help

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — Extended stay-at-home orders mean additional help is needed to assist those struggling now, and those who will be out of work through at least May 31st.

Officials and agencies in the South Bay are doing what they can to keep more people from becoming homeless.

From health crisis to financial crisis, any effort to build a better Bay Area was made more challenging as COVID-19 continues to keep people indoors.

Without work, many in hard-hit Santa Clara County need help.

“One interruption, one crisis can really throw that system into peril,” Destination: Home CEO, Jennifer Loving told ABC7 News. “And COVID-19 has been a sledgehammer in people’s lives.”

On Monday, Loving met with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Their discussion was shared on Facebook LIVE. Their focus was homelessness prevention and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both explained they’ve seen progress, getting people off the streets and into long-term housing.

“Progress is still happening. I think that’s important for people to know,” Mayor Liccardo said. “This is not futile. We’re actually getting people off the street, even amid this crisis.”

He added, “And we’ll begin construction this week on emergency housing at one site and two more sites in the weeks that follow.”

Loving spoke with ABC7 News afterwards and shared more details about progress.

She touted the efforts of the team, made up of several agencies and non-profits. “The Emergency Operations Center, County of Santa Clara, the Office of Supportive Housing, the City of San Jose’s Housing Department, the Housing Authority, and so many other service providers,” she mentioned.

“269 people have been permanently housed in the last five weeks too,” Loving added. “If you think about all of the limitations with COVID-19, all of the health risks, all of the ways that we’re having to come up with new ways to serve people- it’s been pretty extraordinary.”

She said, in Santa Clara County, as a system, they’ve collectively housed more 14,000 people in five years.

However, as shelter-in-place orders are extended, she said the need will become more dire.

“With the shelter-in-place being extended- and of course, we support the work of our public health department in making sure that our community is protected- it just means though that we’re going to have another cycle where people are going to have a lot of trouble paying their rent,” she said.

Five weeks ago, a COVID-19 relief fund was launched for people across the county.

After only three days, 4,600 people had applied. The $11-million in contributions on-hand was maxed out with those households.

Now, Loving said more than 15,000 households have applied for aid. Adding, not everyone who is asking for help is going to get it.

During the Facebook LIVE discussion, Mayor Liccardo said, “We are in the same storm, but we are not all on the same boat. And we need to do more to help so many who are struggling. Clearly, we have a homelessness crisis already and we don’t want any more families pushed out on the street.”

In a follow-up statement to ABC7 News, Mayor Liccardo said: “Destination: Home, under Jen Loving’s leadership, has worked tirelessly in the fight against our region’s joint crises: homelessness and COVID-19. Silicon Valley Strong has raised more than $23 million to support residents with immediate financial assistance. Today’s conversation highlighted the thousands of families still in desperate need. We need the community’s help to raise neighbors up to safer ground.”

Now the race is on to raise more funds. Loving said you can either donate through Destination: Home by clicking here, or Silicon Valley Strong by clicking here.

Liccardo said over Facebook, “It is possible to make a difference. This is not spinning in place. These small amounts of money are making the difference for families, so that they can get on to the next day. That’s what we really need to do as a community. We know that this is going to be hard for a while, we just need help folks to be able to make it to the next day.”

Loving explained a second wave of funding will support the families who won’t see relief from any federal stimulus, unemployment insurance or other support.

“There’s a lot of people that aren’t able to qualify for those mechanisms and really have been having trouble feeding their families,” she said. “And that’s been going on for a little while.”

Loving added, “There needs to be care, there needs to be food, there needs to be medical services. All of that has to be coordinated and orchestrated. So really, the team of people that are doing that work here locally, it’s been a heroic effort.”