Poverty is a government defined term based on the total income a person or family receives. It's also a relative term dependent on where one lives. Based on data for 2012 from the US Department of Health & Human Services the national poverty guideline for a family of four is $23,050. For Santa Clara County the "self-sufficiency standard" for 2011 for a family of four is from a low of $55,633 to a high of $95,802 with childcare being the major variant.
The average income for a CSA client family of four is $21,614. They are not unemployed. They are literally the working poor who struggle to make ends meet and are constantly one paycheck or financial/medical/automotive emergency away from becoming a permanent underclass with little hope of stability, let alone upward mobility.
"CSA is the community's safety-net that provides critical support services that preserve and promote stability, self-reliance and dignity." CSA Mission
CSA's safety net includes:
- Emergency financial assistance for rent, utilities, prescriptive medication, dental care and eye exams.
- Back-to-School distribution of backpacks, school supplies and shoe vouchers.
- Holiday Sharing opportunities with food, clothing and toy distributions.
SETH and FAMILY*
Seth had lost his job and had been receiving unemployment benefits (UI) for some time which allowed him and his wife and two children to "get-by" until he found a new job. But it still took additional help from relatives and friends with food, diapers for the kids, laundry etc. to just get-by. When his UI benefits were unexpectedly discontinued he called the Santa Clara County help line 2-1-1 and was referred to CSA.
By now he had received a 15-day shut-off notice from PG&E. CSA was able to provide financial assistance immediately to bring the PG&E account up-to-date. In addition the CSA case manager pre-screened the family for CalFresh (food stamps) benefits which would give them $668/month to buy food and set up the appointment for them with the CSA on-site CalFresh representative. The family was also registered with the CSA Food & Nutrition Center to receive additional food support.
A follow-up appointment was then set up with the CSA case manager to review necessary documents to provide one-time rental assistance to further help the family stabilize their financial situation. When clients first came to CSA they were desperate; they couldn’t even afford food for their children. By the end of the in-take assessment the case manager reported they were so relieved with the help available that they literally shed tears of happiness.
*Client’s name changed to protect privacy and dignity.
For more information about Emergency Assistance, contact our Emergency Assistance Coordinator.