As part of the roll-out of our new Strategic Plan, CSA is streamlining the way we help people who are currently unhoused or in danger of becoming so.To this end, we recently merged our Emergency Assistance and Homeless Services Program into one department – Homeless Prevention Services (HPS) – to allow case managers to spend more time in the community meeting potential clients and connecting them with our services.
HPS Case Workers Eonis Cibrian Pelayo and Thomas Herena are part of CSA’s new outreach program to people living in motor homes and trailers on city streets. “Since we launched the program several weeks ago, we’ve already talked with or left information for over 100 people,” says Thomas.
CSA’s dynamic duo are focusing on streets and neighborhood clusters identified as RV encampments by the City of Mountain View and the County of Santa Clara, as well as areas the agency has identified.
Most of the people they have met are families and seniors who have been priced out of the market for affordable rentals. “The majority of parents with children that we’ve met are working at least one or two jobs in construction and the service industries,” says Eonis. “We also meet retirees who have lived in Mountain View for many years and can no longer pay the rent.”
Right now they are working on building rapport with the people they meet. “We’re starting out slowly, letting people know we’re here to help them,” says Thomas. “We bring them blankets, canned goods and other necessities. Our ultimate goal, though, is to connect them with CSA services so we can better serve their needs and help them find permanent housing.”
Why We Care:
Eonis grew up in a small town with many migrant workers. “I never saw homelessness until I started college at San Jose State University. There are many homeless adults living near campus, and it affected me deeply. I started reading up on the issue, took some sociology classes and eventually moved my major from bio-sciences to sociology. I feel honored to be able to advocate for those who have lost their voices along the way; I want to find a way to give that back to them.”
Thomas started doing outreach work to the homeless with his church during his teenage years. “When I got to college at Cal State Monterey Bay, I started going to homeless encampments on my own, bringing food to share. Early on I saw the strong sense of community that these individuals have toward one another, the struggles they have and how they become family over time. Working as a case manager for CSA is my life’s work – it’s personal.”