Homelessness is increasing at an alarming rate across California, but particularly so in Santa Clara County. The 2019 bi-annual Homeless Census estimated that for every person who exits homelessness, another three people seek assistance. Even though the 2021 Census was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic due to the ongoing consequences of the crisis, it’s probably safe to assume that the current numbers are even higher than they were in 2019.
Experts generally agree that the pandemic has exacerbated existing racial and economic inequalities. Even those who have homes may be struggling to pay rent, facing eviction, or unable to pay for food or necessities. Now, more than ever, it’s essential that people who can give back to their communities do so—and that those in need know where to go to get help.
How to Get Help
If you are experiencing homelessness, are at risk of homelessness, or are experiencing food insecurity, it can be daunting to ask for help, even if you know where to find it. While everyone’s situation and needs will be different, here are a couple of starting points to consider when looking for support:
- Public Resources. Look for state-, county-, or city-funded resources that focus on helping people experiencing homelessness. For example, the County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency and the City of Santa Clara provide family services and food assistance for those in need.
Assistance comes in a variety of forms. Depending on your family’s specific situation, you may qualify for subsidized housing, rent/mortgage assistance, or even help with your utility bills. In addition, you may receive food assistance in the form of supplemental nutrition programs or food delivery/distribution.
- Private Resources. Private organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul help those in need by giving directly or putting them in touch with other organizations in their Emergency Assistance Network in Santa Clara County.
The type of help will vary from organization to organization; for example, charities such as St. Vincent de Paul specialize in person-to-person service, including rental assistance, utility assistance, food and other items, and spiritual guidance. Other organizations focus more on social support, including assisting people in finding employment or accessing social services.
Others, such as soup kitchens and shelters, offer drop-in services. Becoming aware of the resources in your area and the type of services they offer can help you determine which might be the best fit for you.
Facing financial or food-related insecurity can feel hopeless at times. In moments of need, however, help is available. Contact Saint Vincent de Paul of Santa Clara to talk to someone about your options. People in need can find local assistance and services depending on their location.
How to Give Help
Most people believe in helping others and giving back to their communities. However, uncertainty about the best way to help or which organizations to partner with can be a barrier for some people.
- Donate goods or money. Find a charity or nonprofit in your area that helps provide housing and food for those in need, and consider donating food, gently used household goods, or cash. Be sure to contact the organization or check their website ahead of time to see if they have any guidelines or restrictions on the types of donations they can accept.
- Volunteer your time and energy. If you’re not in a position to donate food items or money, but you still want to make a difference, consider signing up to volunteer with a nonprofit that helps to house and feed families in need. Whether you end up helping with administrative duties or outreach efforts, a few hours of your time can make a huge difference.
While the growing number of people who are experiencing insecurity of some kind may be daunting, it’s important to remember that each of us has the power to make an impact by helping the people in our communities, whether directly or indirectly. Contact Saint Vincent de Paul of Santa Clara County to learn more about ways you can contribute.
Since 1948, the mission of The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul of Santa Clara County is to help struggling families and individuals—whether their struggle is with homelessness, maintaining housing, food insecurity, healthcare, utilities or other issues. In the spirit of its founder, SVdP treats all individuals with dignity, compassion, and love. To support their efforts at healing the Santa Clara County community, consider volunteering or donating.