Two San Mateo County parishes and Catholic Charities of San Francisco partnered together during the fall to pay rent for nearly 50 clients who had fallen behind on payments during the pandemic.  

The collaboration between the three groups helped leverage aid quickly and efficiently to people who had lost their jobs and the ability to pay rent. St. Francis of Assisi in East Palo Alto met with prospective applicants and forwarded them to Catholic Charities staff, who handled applications and connected people with other social support services. St. Raymond Parish, Menlo Park used its Homeless Family Fund to write checks to landlords that covered unpaid rent as well as some future lease payments. 

In total, the fund disbursed $180,000 between October and December for 48 applicants, with payments ranging from $3,000-8,000. 

Carmen Santoni, program manager for Catholic Charities, said the Homeless Family Fund helped many who are excluded from governmental assistance or reluctant to apply for it because they are undocumented. 

“They’re fearful of reaching out for help because that would be a giveaway that they’re not here legally,” she said. 

The Homeless Family Fund existed since the 1990s and usually served as a one time grant of one month’s rent to help families move out of a shelter or stay in their home. When St. Raymond parishioner Sarah Berger Gonzalez was asked to lead the fund, she pivoted it to focus on families who were at risk of becoming homeless through eviction. 

While the state response is uncertain, Father Goode, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, said he has focused on the concrete issue of “what can we do, how can the church respond to this?”

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.