60 homeless families get help from $1.5M donation

December 28, 2011 7:41:53 PM PST
There is an urgent call to help homeless families this holiday season because more families are becoming homeless than ever before. A San Francisco couple and their company have stepped up to help.

Juana Campos, Rene Gracias and their 5-year-old daughter, Stephanie, call a single room home for now. It's inside a shelter operated by Hamilton Family Center. As unemployment and foreclosures continue to force families out of their homes, San Francisco is finding homeless families are a growing challenge.

"The demand has really increased over these past two years to a point where we are able to meet the need immediately so we can get someone into a shelter bed tonight, but long term sustainable type resources and help for folks takes a little bit longer," said Dariush Kayhan, director of Homeless Policy.

The biggest impact is on the children.

"Kids who do not have stability and safety and security in their lives, it's hard for them to focus, it's hard for them even to get up and get to school sometimes. So there's definitely a large impact on children," said Devra Edelman from the Hamilton Family Center.

Sixty homeless families in San Francisco will be getting rent subsidies of $800 a month so they can find new homes as a result of a $1.5 million donation from the SalesForce.com Foundation. The mayor's homeless fund will match that grant. As Campos told us, through a translator, young Stephanie has been wondering how long they will be living in a shelter.

"She has also asked her parents when they will go back to having their own private space," said Campos.

Their shelter space will be reassigned to another of the 239 families on a waiting list. Jo Anne Reed is an expectant mother, who will also get housing help from the new grant.

"I wish I had actually sought this kind of help sooner because it has been extremely organized and productive and helpful, and I was able to get actually some healthcare, too," said Reed.

The growth in the number of homeless families isn't just a San Francisco problem. Homeless advocates in San Mateo County report there are 149 families in the same situation.

The $1.5 million donation came from Marc and Lynne Benioff of the SalesForce.com Foundation.

Homeless Programs tell us the number of homeless families is expected to increase right after the holidays. That's when those who have moved in with relatives or friends during the holidays often find they are no longer welcome.

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