By the LGARC team (published April 12, 2024)

The Housing Crisis

As the housing crisis continues unabated, exorbitant rents in Los Gatos and the greater Bay Area have forced renters out of their homes and onto the streets. For those who remain in their homes, many find themselves struggling with the decision of whether to skip dinner or fall behind in rent. For those who live precariously from check to check, a major complication such as a layoff or a medical emergency can result in the loss of their housing. 

Due to both historical and present injustices, those experiencing poverty and homelessness are disproportionately people of color. In 2023, in Santa Clara County, where the town of Los Gatos is based, residents who are Hispanic or Latino compose roughly about 25% of the population, yet represent 41% of people experiencing homelessness in 2023. Likewise, Black people represent 2.9% of the county’s population, but represent a little over 15% of those experience homelessness.1 2

Understanding this, in June 2023, the Los Gatos Anti-Racism Coalition (LGARC) introduced its rental assistance program, offering rapid financial relief to tenants on the brink of eviction to those living in Santa Clara County. Applicants may apply for up to $500 in rental assistance.

“In deploying our limited resources, we asked ourselves where we could do the most good. The adage ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ remains as true as ever. When we see the situations that lead people to homelessness, it is often only a few hundred dollars that makes the difference between remaining housed and becoming homeless,” said Jeff Suzuki, president of LGARC.

Rental Assistance in Action

Since then, LGARC has provided over $25,000 in rental assistance, helping over fifty families and individuals stay in their homes. It has served people of a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from college students in their late teens to seniors in their 70s. It has provided support to those who have experienced unemployment, cuts in hours and pay, medical emergencies, and rent hikes. It has served English and non-English speakers, and has helped people of all ages who are Asian, Black, Latino, and White remain in their homes.

 

One such person was Shefali A., who agreed to share her experiences with the program:

“…[T]he LGARC have been very helpful during this time of great stress and helped to keep myself and my mother housed. We have so much going on right now and I do not know where we would be or what we would have done without the support of LGARC. And you were so quick with the help. Thank you so much.”

 

LGARC’s aim is to provide assistance as quickly and as efficiently as possible. For the most vulnerable in our communities, this speed is essential to preventing far worse and far costlier outcomes in the long run. In the vast majority of cases, LGARC has evaluated applications within one or two days of receiving the requested documents. Many leaders in the Los Gatos community have noted the benefits of the program. 
 
One such leader is Los Gatos Town Council Member Rob Moore, who shared his views on LGARC’s rental assistance program:
 

“The Los Gatos Anti-Racism Coalition’s Rental Assistance program has been absolutely transformative to the lives of people in the Los Gatos community and beyond. Several major nonprofits who serve vulnerable individuals have turned to LGARC for its help, which to me really speaks to the importance of the program, the nimbleness of this great organization, and the quality of LGARC’s leadership.”

Fighting the Good Fight

As LGARC continues to provide assistance, it remains a fervent advocate for affordable housing across the Bay Area. They identify the primary driver of the homelessness crisis as being systemic, caused largely by the lack of affordable housing. For the last four years, LGARC has been deeply involved in advocating for affordable housing by organizing efforts to demand more from its local representatives. While LGARC continues to take direct action to prevent struggling families from slipping through the cracks, it will continue to support the effort to make Los Gatos and the greater Bay Area truly inclusive for working-class families.

For any inquiries, including how to get involved, contact us by email: antiracism.lg@gmail.com

Mission Statement

The mission of the Los Gatos Anti-Racism Coalition is to mobilize members of our community to fight for concrete and anti-racist change. We envision a world where people from all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds can not only afford to live here, but also feel like they belong here. We work to achieve this vision through a combination of direct assistance to the community, advocacy and activism, and anti-racist education. 

References

1.   U.S. Census Bureau, “Population Estimates, July 1, 2023 (V2023) – Santa Clara County, CA,” Quick Facts [Internet]. U.S. Census Bureau; 2023 [cited 2024 Apr 5]. Available from: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/santaclaracountycalifornia/PST045223

2.  County of Santa Clara Office of Supportive Housing. Santa Clara County Homeless Census and Survey Reports (Point-in-Time Count) [Internet]. County of Santa Clara Office of Supportive Housing; 2023 [cited 2024 Apr 5]. Available from: https://osh.sccgov.org/continuum-care/reports-and-publications/santa-clara-county-homeless-census-and-survey-reports-point

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