WATSONVILLE — Kaiser Permanente has granted $150,000 to the Watsonville-based Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc. (CAB) to provide housing resources to 75-100 homeless or “housing-insecure” families in South County, according to a press release.
CAB is the lead agency in the five-member South County Housing Collaborative which includes Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s Healthy Start program, Pajaro Valley Shelter Services, Families in Transition and California Legal Rural Assistance. All of the assisted families will have children enrolled in PVUSD, and are primarily very low-income Latino and farmworker families living in the area.
Last year, Kaiser Permanente announced a $200 million Thriving Communities Fund to improve community health by addressing housing stability and homelessness, among other needs.
“This is tremendous support to move our work forward,” said Helen Ewan-Storey, CAB’s assistant director. “This is a community that has a high need for housing resources, and we’re excited Kaiser Permanente is stepping up to help.”
Ewan-Storey said that the CAB-led program will provide support services to the families, helping them develop housing plans and goals, as well as making connections to health, income and nutrition, education, and employment assistance programs.
“For many, we’ll help them navigate forms and systems for affordable housing, shelter and waiting lists, as well as assist with move-in money and rental assistance to avoid homelessness,” she said.
The housing aid will also help up to 200 PVUSD students maintain or improve school attendance and academic progress, and the students will get priority enrollment in afterschool programs.
“Housing is health,” said Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center and the Santa Cruz Area. “Our mission is improving the health of our communities and that can’t happen until people have stable housing.”
Kaiser Permanente has provided more than $2 million in grants to Santa Cruz County nonprofits since opening health care services in the county in 2017, according to the organization. Those grants addressed community and family safety, healthy eating and active living, mental health, and access to care and coverage.
“This is important work the Community Action Board is doing; we’re proud to support it,” Chavez said.