COVID-19 rental lifeline: Bay Area nonprofits, tech giants raise millions to keep families in homes

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- For months, people have been ordered to stay at home or or work from home.

But what if there was no home to be at?

Even with eviction moratoriums in place, families across the Bay Area are facing homelessness due to back pay owed on these rents following financial struggles caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Live in Peace is a nonprofit in East Palo Alto dedicated to help at-risk youth succeed in school, but COVID-19 has challenged the group to help in a new way with the "First of the Month" campaign.

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"Imagine living check-to-check, working very hard and making sure everything is balanced to a tee and then, in one day, everything stops," Live in Peace Executive Director Heather Starnes-Logwood said.

Live in Peace said they would not let that happen.

"First of the Month was designed so that families in East Palo Alto, East Menlo Park and Redwood City that were impacted by COVID-19 could be supported," Starnes-Logwood said. "We would pay three months of rent at a time so that we could stabilize them. If we ignore this issue right now, people will be displaced and people would be removed from our community and that is our number one priority."


Recipients of First of the Month rent relief are identified and carefully vetted by community leaders of the three local nonprofits who've banded together to launch First Of The Month - Dreamers Roadmap, Kafenia Peace Collective and Live In Peace.

The campaign has raised more than $2 million to support 310 families in need.

Donations are collected and distributed to families within 48 hours.

To get this money, volunteers have reached out to some big names.

Funding to date has come from over 600 small and large donors, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's #startsmall initiative, Box co-founder Aaron Levie and his wife Joelle Emerson, as well as Zoom founder Eric Yuan.

Bay Area foundations also gave generously, including Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Palo Alto Community Fund, The Anne Wojcicki Foundation, the Susan and Peter Pau of Sand Hill Property Company foundation, and New Story, a nonprofit dedicated to tackling global homelessness.

YourMechanic.com's President and CEO Anthony Rodio also joined in to support the cause.

"I love when I can make a personal impact and see the difference that impact makes on people's lives," Rodio said. "I think they have done a good job of connecting with the people here in Silicon Valley in a way that makes it very personal and, for me, that's more rewarding than just sending a check. We wanted to donate where we could see an impact in our own community."

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Letters of thanks for these donations flood the Live in Peace mailbox.

Gratitude for these companies and the volunteers.


"It's very life-changing and the way we connect with the families is very impactful," Live in Peace Volunteer Luz Abarca said.

"I'm part of those families," Live in Peace volunteer Bianca Oseguera said. "We're all low-income. I'm just proud to be able to help families continue to stay in their homes and not be evicted."

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Live in Peace hopes to raise 9 million more to support 500 families still at risk of losing their homes.

If you'd like to get involved, visit the Live in Peace website here.

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