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Addressing the Inequities Exacerbated by this Pandemic

When COVID-19 began we knew that it would be our lowest-income families of color who would be hardest hit and that we needed to quickly and aggressively mobilize to meet this impending crisis.

While we knew we could leverage our countywide Homelessness Prevention System, it only had the capacity to assist approximately 1,500 at-risk households per year. So, with the support of dozens of public and private partners – led by Cisco’s $10 million anchor contribution – we launched a special COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program, and we’ve already provided two rounds of financial assistance.

Collectively, these initiatives have provided $21.8 million in rental and financial assistance to 11,698 households in-need since the pandemic began:

We could not have reached so many families and individuals in-need if it weren’t for the support of a large coalition of non-profit and community partners, coordinated in partnership with Sacred Heart Community Service. 

We recruited 70 partners to conduct outreach, assist with applications and disburse funds. This includes almost 50 small grassroots groups who have been instrumental in ensuring we reach neighborhoods that are historically and chronically under-resourced and where we know COVID-19 has had the most severe economic and health impacts.

And thanks to these partners, our COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program has been able to serve families in cities throughout Santa Clara County – and focus our limited resources on some of our poorest and most vulnerable zip codes:

Understanding the Severity of Our Compounding Crisis

Over the past six months, we have gained deeper insight into the devastation that our low-income neighbors are facing as a result of this pandemic. For example:

Residents at-risk of homelessness typically cite a wide variety of reasons for seeking help from our Homelessness Prevention System. However, since the pandemic began, 80% of those accessing Homelessness Prevention assistance cited income loss as a primary cause of their current situation.

The impact of this income loss is particularly startling when you look at our most vulnerable residents. 

COVID-19 Financial Assistance Phase 2 recipients saw their monthly income drop by an average of 81% – with the average household earning only $374/month during the pandemic. And among these households, almost 2/3 reported ZERO income

Finally, our data provides further evidence that this pandemic is most severely-impacting residents of color.

Of the 10,000+ households who have received assistance via the COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program to-date, 94% identified as people of color (either by race or ethnicity).

As we look ahead, our efforts must shift from a short-term emergency response to a strategy that also addresses the ongoing depth of economic devastation affecting so many families and individuals in our community.  And most importantly, we want to ensure that we: 1) take into account the longer-term risk for displacement and homelessness hovering over so many families, and 2) ultimately provide enough assistance to keep families housed.

We are working with our partners to determine how we can utilize our limited remaining resources to achieve these goals and welcome your input on how we can best meet the needs of our community. 

We are committed to doing everything we can to help families who have been devastated by this pandemic and we will continue to need your help. 

Learn more about the Homelessness Prevention System and our COVID-19 Response.