Two Contra Costa County non-profit organizations donated $1.6 million worth of grants to several community groups in the region to help them purchase food, shelter, and other necessities.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Contra Costa Regional Health Foundation gave 44 different community organizations with grants worth between $10,000 to $50,000. The financial assistance was taken from the health foundations’ COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.
The grants aim to provide assistance in meeting needs in food supply and distribution, financial assistance, shelter, and emergency housing, public health interventions, and several other emergency shortages such as essential workers’ support.
After mid-March, the health foundation started its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund when the government announced the coronavirus shelter-in-place order.
The board chairwoman of the Contra Costa Regional Health Foundation, Bette Felton, said the recipients of the grants immediately distributed the financial assistance to several groups that were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the foundation also prioritized locating organizations that specialized in marginalized communities and those that provided support to residential facilities for elders and disabled people.
The director of development for Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Kim Castaneda, said the grant came at just the right time. She noted there had been so many residents who have lost their jobs and earned much less due to the coronavirus pandemic. Castaneda said that people were starting to starve and that local food banks quickly noticed the effects of the recession.
In early April, Castaneda observed a massive influx of people collecting food from food banks, and prices skyrocketed. She said they experienced frequent shortages and that all of their corporate volunteer groups stopped. “This timely infusion of funds helped us overcome these challenges and ensured we had enough food to meet the community’s need,” she said.
Nearly 190,000 residents from Contra Costa County received food support this year, based on grant recipients’ survey data.
The development director for Bay Area Crisis Nursery, Kimberly Baptista, said the grants allowed them to provide free emergency shelters to 26 babies and young kids. She noted it also allowed them to give food, diapers, formula, toiletries, and clothes to more than 100 families in the Bay Area amid the difficulties, CBS Local reported.
The grants come at a time when officials moved Contra Costa County back into the purple tier of lockdown protocols, the most restrictive phase of reopening in California. Along with 40 other counties, the region has seen a massive surge of COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, filling officials and residents with fear and doubt.
Due to the United States reaching a record of one million new cases in just six days, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an “emergency brake” to all reopening plans in the state and roll counties back.
Christine, a resident of Contra Costa County, said that people should still continue being cautious of the virus and keep themselves and their families safe by washing their hands and following social distancing protocols. Despite working at a medical facility, the resident said they were taking all necessary precautions to stifle the spread of the coronavirus in their workplace, KRON4 reported.
On November 17, the Board of Supervisors of Contra Costa County unanimously approved an amendment affecting the region’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Action Plan. The decision would provide an additional $4,292,960 worth of funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
The Board Chair, Supervisor Candace Andersen, said the county should move quickly in helping its residents suffering amid the coronavirus pandemic. She added that providing direct rental assistance to tenants was paramount and ensured that staff would coordinate with community organizations to provide more support to other areas of the county, Pioneer Publishers reported.