County Strengthens Homeless Prevention and Emergency Assistance

January 12, 2016


The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors today approved a series of contracts expanding funding for programs throughout the County aimed at preventing homelessness. Among those efforts:

  • Funding for the Emergency Assistance Network (EAN), a collection of local nonprofit organizations that help low income residents pay for rent and other housing costs to avoid eviction and homelessness ; and,
  • Four housing specialists who will help clients retain their housing or relocate.

The new funding comes in part at the request of County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who proposed providing additional funding for emergency financial assistance during the 2015-2016 budget process.  The initial funding was expanded in September at the recommendation of the County’s Housing Task Force.

“It’s important for folks to know that there are places they can go when times get tough,” said Simitian. “Organizations like these are important access points for low income residents who need emergency funds for rent, utilities, and other housing costs.”

The Emergency Assistance Network is made up of seven agencies: Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos, West Valley Community Services, InnVision Shelter Network, Sunnyvale Community Services, Salvation Army, St. Joseph Family Center, and Sacred Heart Community Services. Each EAN agency will receive $75,000 a year in additional funding, except for InnVision Shelter Network, which will receive $150,000 a year because it serves two regions (Palo Alto and San Jose).

These organizations typically run out of emergency assistance funds midway through the year, yet first-time requests from families in crisis continue to pour in. It’s anticipated that these increased funds will help serve at least 400 additional families seeking housing support each year.

“Keeping people in their existing homes is our first line of defense against homelessness,” said Tom Myers, Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos. “We never want to turn down a family in crisis. These increased funds will enable the Emergency Assistance Network to help hundreds of families stay in their homes during difficult times.”

While these Emergency Assistance Network organizations provide valuable case management services, their caseworkers do not always have time to provide focused support on seeking or retaining housing. To help families and individuals receive greater housing support at organizations where they are already receiving other services, the County is providing $291,000 annually for three years to InnVision Shelter Network, Sacred Heart Community Services, and West Valley Community Services to fund four Housing Specialists who will help clients relocate or retain their housing.

The Housing Specialists were also part of Simitian’s 2015-2016 proposal to, “help people find a home, and ensure they can stay in it, even in tough times.” These Housing Specialists will build relationships with landlords, work with clients to renegotiate their leases or seek more appropriate housing, provide coaching on improving credit scores, budgeting, and good tenancy, and navigate housing assistance programs.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to homelessness,” said Simitian. “The more we learn about it, the more we realize that the problem can only be solved on a person-to-person basis. These programs and services aim to meet a range of needs in a variety of locations.”

At the same meeting, the Board also approved contracts funding emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing through InnVision Shelter Network, following the recommendation of the housing task force.

“We’ve got a tremendous Housing Task Force that’s given us a list of steps we can take to fight chronic homelessness,” said Simitian. “I’m glad to see that we could follow through on their recommendations, and get some help for the folks who need it most.”





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