People – Passion – Professionalism: Staff experiences during the pandemic
Brandi Jothimani, Homeless Prevention Services Program Director
What do you like best about your job?
The thing I love most about my job is the sense of community and support that is ingrained in our culture. When the pandemic hit not only did CSA come together to support the rental assistance team but so did the entire Emergency Assistance Network (EAN) across Santa Clara County. Everybody knew the crisis we were facing and that our clients were the ones who would suffer the most. I am so proud to be a part of history where all different types of services and professionals came together to serve the community as one.
What was it like working at CSA this past year during the pandemic? How did your job change? How did you flex, pivot and stretch to meet increasing client and/or agency need?
This year was very scary and overwhelming. CSA services were turned upside down; every department assisted with rental cases. A new COVID response team was created to help families who tested positive with COVID, delivering food, gift cards and hygiene products. Thousands of rental cases poured in within weeks of the first shut down. Case managers were working on case loads of 75 cases or more. To date, we have processed over $2 million in rental checks. Even with the additional support, the need is so great that it is still so difficult to keep up.
Was there a seminal moment/incident during this past year when you realized just how much the pandemic is/was impacting your clients and/or workload?
I joined a virtual community meeting in April of 2020 to talk about the rental relief program. Over 80 CSA clients were logged on, and all had questions and participated in the discussion. You could hear the worry in people’s voices and see it on their faces. I knew no matter how much I explained about CSA services and rental assistance these people would still have to go home and face their bills and landlords all without having a job. I knew then that CSA’s work was really just beginning.
What keeps you going at work during times of great uncertainty … like COVID-19?
The support of our great staff and knowing that our work truly does make a difference. When clients take the time to send notes and call their case managers to express their gratitude for the work that is being done. Although the work is emotionally draining, I know that I am not the only one facing this endless tidal wave of work, but our community and entire EAN is working tirelessly to support our neighbors and clients.