Santa Clara County and San Jose officials, along with nonprofits and business leaders on Monday launched what they hope will be an $11 million fund to help financially struggling residents get through the coronavirus pandemic.
The money will help low-income households pay rent and other crucial bills in an effort to prevent them from losing their homes during the crisis. Companies and nonprofits including Cisco, Destination: Home, Adobe, Zoom, Facebook and Hewlett Packard Enterprise already have contributed a total of $7.25 million, and the county and the city of San Jose are considering supplying another $2 million each — which will be discussed at their respective meetings Tuesday.
“The people who we need to help are those who are the most vulnerable right now,” Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said during a video press conference. “And while Washington tries to figure out if they can get a funding package together, it’s incumbent upon the rest of us to make sure these people don’t suffer.”
Households will be eligible if they live in Santa Clara County and make less than 80% of the average median income — or $103,900 for a family of four. They must be able to prove they’ve lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic. Each household can receive a maximum of $4,000 a month.
The largest contribution to the fund came from Cisco, which put up $2 million. The company on Sunday announced it would allocate $225 million in cash and products to coronavirus relief globally.
Western Digital also contributed $1.5 million to the Santa Clara County fund, Adobe and nonprofit Destination: Home each contributed $1 million, and Zoom and Broadcom each contributed $500,000. Micron, Facebook, Infosys, Silver Lake and Hewlett Packard Enterprise also contributed to the fund.
The funding comes after tens of thousands of Californians have lost work due to a mandatory shelter-in-place order enacted across the state last week. The order forced the closure of all businesses deemed “non-essential,” and has left everyone from hairdressers and bartenders to pilots and opera singers out of work — a crisis experts fear will result in some small businesses shutting down permanently, and some unemployed workers losing their housing.
As Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez pointed out Monday, 140,000 families in the county were already living below the poverty line before the coronavirus epidemic broke out.
“Now for those families, they’re freefalling even further behind,” she said. “And now we have more families joining them.”
To help keep them housed, San Jose has suspended residential evictions through at least April 17. San Francisco also has suspended evictions, and Oakland is considering doing the same.
The Santa Clara County fund is the latest of several recent actions taken by officials around the Bay Area to try and ease the impact coronavirus closures are having on local families. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation launched a regional coronavirus response fund where people can donate to the broader fund, or to individual county efforts. Silicon Valley officials and community leaders launched Silicon Valley Strong to connect those in need with resources, connect volunteers with worthy causes and facilitate donations. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said Monday more than 1,000 people so far have used that site to offer their volunteer services.
And Oakland launched its own COVID-19 relief fund last week.
“When history gets written about this very awful moment,” Liccardo said, “the question that we will be asked by our progeny is: How did we care for one another? That is the most important question, maybe the only question that matters. And right now we are seeing many step up to say we are ready to care for one another.”
How to apply: Go online at sacredheartcs.org/covid19, call 408-780-9134 or set up an in-person appointment by calling the hotline.
To donate: Visit siliconvalleycf.org/coronavirus-fund