More Saratogans are using food and rental assistance from nonprofits – The Mercury News

Of West Valley Community Services’ 1,207 new clients in fiscal year 2020-21, 6% were from Saratoga.

According to the WVCS annual report, this represents an increase in Saratoga’s total customer base from 117 in 2019-20 to 172 in 2020-21. In total, the number of new clients using its rental and food assistance programs increased from 989 in 2019-2020.

Based in Cupertino, the nonprofit also serves residents living below the property line in Los Gatos and west San Jose. WVCS served a total of 3,168 clients in 2020-2021.

Saratoga-based customers were 65% single adults, 8% households with children, and 27% households with adults only. Of the households receiving cash assistance, seven were in Saratoga.

“While demand has remained steady and our numbers this year are higher than they were the pre-COVID year, our rental assistance numbers and our food distribution numbers are among the highest. high in our history,” said WVCS Executive Director Josh Selo, adding that the nonprofit saw an increase of 2,000 clients in the region in 2019-20 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. .

WVCS’s customer base also increased in the other communities it serves, by 29% in Cupertino, 23% in Los Gatos and 42% in West San Jose.

“In general, our customer base is determined more specifically by the number of affordable housing units in a community,” Selo said. “If a community has more affordable housing, there are more people eligible for services. It is also due to the number of homeless people in our community.

As the pandemic has forced the nonprofit to adapt to unprecedented change, Selo said she’s also increased accessibility to WVCS. Now, instead of traveling to the Cupertino office, clients can set up virtual meetings with case managers. WVCS’ Park-It Market, which serves as a no-cost “buyable” food pantry for customers, stops at Fellowship Plaza in Saratoga every Wednesday.

“It’s a tool in our toolbox that will continue, even as COVID recedes in the background,” Selo said. “We believe we should be as customer-centric as possible. There are already so many stumbling blocks facing our customers; we want to make it easier for them in terms of access.

Selo said many WVCS clients are referred by county or city agencies, and the nonprofit also does outreach at laundromats, cafes and homeless encampments.

“I would say part of the reason we’ve been so successful in meeting this increased demand during COVID was because we had worked for many years on these close relationships between all these different partners to be here for the community. “said Selo.

WVCS revenue for the fiscal year was just over $8.7 million; expenditures amounted to nearly $5.8 million.

Anne Gelhaus contributed to this report.

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