Holiday Fund: Helping families through times of crisis


Gifts to the Almanac's Holiday Fund benefit the Fair Oaks Community Center.Donate now.

Story by Teri Chin, human services manager, city of Redwood City.

I met Eric and Leticia after they came to the Fair Oaks Community Center seeking rental assistance in May 2015. Months earlier, Eric had open-heart surgery and learned that half of his heart was no longer functioning.

He had a long recovery ahead before this 67-year-old could return to his work as a custom shoe maker.

Eric and Leticia had gone through their meager savings and gotten help from family and friends, but were now faced with eviction if they couldn't pay their rent of $1,450 for the studio apartment they'd lived in for the last 11 years.

We helped Eric and Leticia with the rent for May and June with the hope that Eric would return to work by the end of June. But after learning more about his recovery, it was clear he would not return to work so soon.

About this time, we learned about a program that offered a time-limited housing subsidy. Eric and Leticia seemed like perfect candidates. All they needed was a sponsoring agency that could provide them with ongoing support for the duration of the three-year subsidy. We stepped up to take on this role.

Our case worker, Miguel, began working with them. Prior to this, the couple had lived off of Eric's earnings, never relying on public benefits, and paying for their own health insurance coverage.

But with the loss of Eric's income, they no longer had the means to provide for even their most basic needs. They had already applied for and received food stamps, but were not aware that they could also now apply for CAPI (Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants) and Medi-Cal (state funded health insurance). We assisted them with both and successfully advocated for their benefits to be expedited.

The family was approved for the housing subsidy, and eventually moved to a new apartment because their previous landlord would not accept the housing subsidy.

Eric and Leticia are one example of the families assisted by the Fair Oaks Community Center this past year.

Serving Redwood City, North Fair Oaks, Woodside, Atherton and Portola Valley, the Center provides basic emergency services to families and individuals in crisis in our community food assistance, rental assistance, utility assistance, homeless shelter referrals, and other emergency assistance and referrals.

The Fair Oaks Community Center is at 2600 Middlefield Road in Redwood City. The phone is (650) 780-7500.

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