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Haven to Home: A Stepping Stone For The Homeless

Helping individuals and families find permanent, affordable housing in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, and West San Jose needs to remain our No. 1 priority.

The West Valley Community Services (WVCS) Haven to Home (HTH) program addresses the needs of many homeless individuals and families while helping them secure permanent, affordable housing in the west valley of Santa Clara County including Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, and West San Jose.

The program's main goals are for homeless clients to secure permanent housing, maintain employment, and enhance income opportunity. In 2011, WVCS served 85 homeless families and couples.

In 2011, the Santa Clara County Office of Affordable Housing conducted its biannual county wide homeless census and survey, a point-in-time count and annual estimation of homelessness in Santa Clara County. 

This data has helped the county and local homeless service providers better understand the needs of their community, evaluate their current system of services, and apply for federal and local funding. 

This survey counts an estimated 7,042 individuals experience homelessness nightly in Santa Clara County. Out of these individuals, 73 percent were on the streets and 27 percent were in shelter facilities such as emergency shelter, transitional housing, and safe havens.

The main focus of our work has been to help the unsheltered population find housing and help move them into permanent housing. This program is meant to help people like Ernest.

Ernest came in to WVCS as a referral from the Santa Clara County Fire Department because of his health condition. Ernest had a house before, but his problems with alcohol caused him to lose everything, including his children. He came to WVCS because he did not know which direction to go.

WVCS provided Ernest with case management and transitional housing. Now he has a part-time job, is sober and is living in our transitional housing program. His health has improved and his next goal is to reunite with his children and gain their trust back.

To have your own place seems like a dream for most of our HTH clients. All of them expressed what it feels like to wake up in the morning knowing that there is a place to cook, eat, and take a shower.

That feeling of stability has motivated some of them to become productive citizens in the community. Matt moved into his own apartment in July after living 10 years on the streets. He quickly turned around his life and worked towards his recovery of alcohol addiction.

Matt got his driver’s license and connected with his son. Matt is now helping others who have been on the street and getting them motivated to be housed. Matt is starting his own window cleaning business and helping out at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Los Gatos, the worship house that provided him the support system when he needed it the most.

In 2011, our HTH program placed 29 homeless clients into permanent housing. We wouldn’t be able to do this work without the various community partners who contributed to the success of this program including Trinity Church, the UPLIFT program, AACI and the Goodwill Internship program. 

WVCS strives to become a one-stop center and make services such as on-site mental health counseling (through AACI), Benefit Clinics, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and free or reduced school lunch more accessible and available to clients.

Our work to eliminate homelessness has not ended. If you feel compassionate about this cause and want to help the most vulnerable citizens of our community, please contact West Valley Community Services to find out how you can help our Haven to Home program through volunteerism or donations.

WVCS is a private nonprofit, community-based agency that has been providing direct assistance and referral services to the west valley communities of Santa Clara County for over 37 years. 

WVCS provides a continuum of basic needs, family support services and housing services including: information and referrals, food pantry, homeless services, transitional housing, affordable housing, emergency financial assistance, family support programs, and case management services.

WVCS serves the west valley communities of Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, West San Jose and the unincorporated mountain regions. Its mission is to encourage the sharing of community resources, to provide basic human needs in a caring and dignified environment, and to provide opportunities for volunteers to participate in WVCS' activities. Details: www.wvcommunityservices.org, or 408- 255-8033.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Larry Arzie October 04, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Thank you for the follow up.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz October 05, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Sounds like a good program. But usually the homeless need more than a home. They're usually not physically or mentally well. So I'm not sure where this is going?
John Bartas October 05, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Sounds like this group knows what they're doing. In my limited experience with the homeless alcoholism seems to be the #1 problem, and they mentioned that in the stories of Matt end Ernest. Gainful employment was also featured. I think this group deserves our support.

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