CSA’s Homeless Prevention Services (HPS) program helps members of our community who are on the brink of homelessness, as well as those who are currently unhoused. Since July 2017 alone, the program has served over 4,000 people – men, women, children and seniors – providing food, financial assistance and a complement of other services to help them get back on their feet.
The department is divided into two areas – prevention services to help people avoid homelessness and services for the unhoused.
“The main way we prevent low-income individuals and families from slipping into homelessness is through access to our Food & Nutrition Center,” says Brandi Jothimani, HPS Director. “Food is the second major expense after housing so helping people with groceries frees up funds to pay for rent and other essential needs.”
Over the last few months, CSA has experienced an increasing number of clients seeking rental assistance. To apply, clients must submit verifiable proof of need. Once approved, payments are made directly to the landlord, utility company and others. Helping clients in these emergency situations is a key way of preventing evictions and subsequent homelessness.
For those who are homeless, CSA provides food and case management support, along with access to medical and dental care, showers and laundry. “These clients need everything,” says Janice Bonello, CSA case manager. “We help them look for employment, subsidized housing and other areas of need. Above all, though, at the heart of our work is teaching people self-respect, self-reliance and taking responsibility for themselves.”
The HPS program has also seen a surge in the number of homeless clients, consistent with findings from the Point in Time census conducted last year that showed a 51% increase in Mountain View’s homeless population since 2015. “Within our department, we are also seeing more movement from prevention efforts to supporting the newly unhoused,” says Brandi. “With waiting lists for temporary shelter and longer-term affordable housing getting longer, we have our work cut out for ourselves to help our neighbors in need.”