April 28, 2020

Silicon Valley coronavirus relief fund nears $25 million, more still needed


At SV@Home, we understand how critical it is to come together to help our neighbors who have lost their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and can no longer pay their rent or other bills. We were proud to join our partner agencies and NBC Bay Area in a telethon that raised more than $277,000, but there is still great need in our communities.


By MARISA KENDALL | mkendall@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: April 27, 2020 at 4:44 p.m. | UPDATED: April 28, 2020 at 4:00 a.m.


A coronavirus relief fund for Santa Clara County residents has raised nearly $25 million so far, but even that lofty sum won’t be enough to help everyone in need.

More than 15,000 households have applied for aid, Destination: Home CEO Jennifer Loving, one of the fund’s organizers, said Monday. Each family needs an average of $2,600 — meaning the fund would have to swell to $39 million just to cover those who already have applied.
“What we know is it’s not going to help everybody. It’s not by any stretch helping everyone who has asked us for help,” Loving said during a conversation with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo broadcast over Facebook Live.

The Silicon Valley Strong fund launched late last month with more than $11 million provided by local nonprofits and businesses, as well as the county and the city of San Jose. The intent was to serve people who have lost their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and can no longer pay their rent or other bills.

But demand was so high that just three days after it launched, the fund ran out of money — shocking and dismaying its organizers, who began putting applicants on a waitlist. They had received 4,600 requests in those first few days — sometimes at a rate of two applications per minute — which they knew would exhaust the $11 million.

So organizers put out a desperate plea for more help, and additional donations poured in — including a $1 million pledge from Google.
NBC Bay Area also hosted a telethon earlier this month, which raised more than $277,000 from about 850 people, according to partner SV@Home.

So far, organizers are about 65% of the way through distributing funds to those first 4,600 households who applied, Loving said.
“If you haven’t yet gotten help from us, we know that, and I promise you we are really trying,” she said.

For the next batch of relief, the fund will focus on people, such as undocumented immigrants, who will not receive a stimulus check from the federal government, enhanced unemployment payments or other support, Loving said.

“There’s a lot of need,” Liccardo said, urging people to donate, “and we’re going to have a long way to go to get out of what’s happened to us.”
In addition to providing cash support to prevent families from becoming homeless during the pandemic, Santa Clara County, the city of San Jose and their nonprofit partners also have made progress getting the homeless off the streets and into housing.

Nearly 600 homeless residents have been placed in the county’s various housing programs — from motels to new congregate-style shelters — including every known homeless person who has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the county’s public health department.
Since the pandemic began, the county and the city of San Jose have added 1,245 additional beds for the homeless. Those include 575 motel rooms across 10 sites for people who have COVID-19 or are considered “at-risk,” 250 beds at the Santa Clara Convention Center for COVID-19 positive patients, and 420 shelter beds at Gateway Pavilion, Parkside Hall, South Hall and the Camden Community Center.
The city of San Jose also received more than 100 trailers from the state last month to house the homeless, but has not yet moved anyone in. And the county is working to add additional hotel and motel rooms to its inventory.
“Progress is happening,” Liccardo said. “I think that’s important for people to know.”

To donate: Visit siliconvalleystrong.org or destinationhomesv.org
To get help: If you live in Santa Clara County, add your name to the waitlist at sacredheartcs.org/covid19
If you need housing: Call 408-278-6420