Santa Clara County assistance programs.

Find how to get help with housing costs (mortgages, rent, or security deposits), utility bills, transportation expenses (gasoline or bus passes), grocery costs and other financial help in Santa Clara County. Non-profits and government programs help low to moderate income families pay the bills. They provide cash grants along with case management, job training and even debt counseling services.

Rent assistance

Catholic Charities in Santa Clara provides emergency rent assistance to people in need. There are no religious affiliations, and anyone can apply for help. There are of course conditions, such as income, financial hardship, and others. They can help people find an apartment or housing that will meet their needs, and work with landlords to ensure the housing is a good fit. (408) 468-0100.

They offer other programs to help people in need. For example, they can provide grants to families to help pay utility bills, help someone find a job, even provide food aid. Find additional California charities.

Find rent, housing, food, and medical assistance

Tens of thousands of Mountain View, Los Altos, and Santa Clara residents can receive help from the Community Services of Mountain View and Los Altos organization. Many are finding emergency rental assistance and other aid. A new safety net program, called the Urgent Community Response Fund, will be funding many charities as the result of a generous one-time cash grant of $1 million from Applied Materials Foundation.




This new charitable fund, which will be managed through social service agencies such as the United Way, will help the needy with shelter, food, prescription medication, provide rent and security deposit help, and even transportation services. Call the United Way of Santa Clara/Silicon Valley to apply. (408) 345-4300.

Some other charities that people can turn to for help include the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County in San Jose. They  receive daily calls of people inquiring about emergency rental assistance. At CSA in Mountain View, the number of homeless and struggling families picking up brown bags of food and groceries for the day have more than doubled in the last year. Also, the lines to the daily food pantry and kitchen are usually a block long. Many families continue to struggle, but there is help out there.





Food assistance from St. Joseph’s Family Center in Gilroy

Has received a grant of tens of thousands of dollars to provide additional assistance to people who are seeking help from the food pantry. They are providing resources to thousands of people every year. They can also provide help with paying rent. Phone (408) 842-6662.

Food from Sunnyvale Community Services

They have experienced a record number of people seeking aid. SCS has received a $30,000 grant that will be used to buy bulk food and also to provide rental assistance to low-income residents and families. (408) 481-9423.

Additional groceries and food aid

Another option is to visit the Reach Out station in the St. Catherine Church parking lot at 17400 Peak Avenue. Emergency food is usually available, as resources allow, from Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Reach Out center to aid hungry and low income people in town. Contact 779-3959 for more information on the groceries and food.

Emergency assistance for rent and energy bills

All of these non-profits and charities provide emergency financial aid for paying bills, debts, and rent.

  • InnVision Georgia Travis Center. San Jose headquartered. (408) 453-3124
  • InnVision Opportunity Center. Palo Alto. (650) 853-8672
  • St. Joseph’s Family Center. Gilroy. (408) 842-6662
  • Sunnyvale Community Services. Call them at (408) 738-4321.
  • Cupertino based West Valley Community Services. Dial (408) 255-8033.
  • EHC LifeBuilders - One Stop Homeless Prevention. Offers rent assistance to prevent evictions, and can help those who are currently homeless. Dial (408) 510-7528.




Tenants have other options for rent help. Both private funds and government grants may be available for preventing homelessness. In addition to the San Jose and Santa Clara organizations listed below and above, read about more places to call for rent help in San Jose.

Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos offers emergency help and runs programs that offer safety-net services to low-income individuals, the unemployed, families, and seniors. The agency ensures that those individuals who are facing economic challenges have support provided to them. The assistance from CSA assists people that are impacted with financial emergencies or hardships and who are low-income. The goal is to help them maintain independence and self sufficiency over the long term. Call them at (408) 968-0836. More on programs from Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos.

InnVision The Way Home (408) 292-4286 Provides a variety of financial and emergency assistance. The programs and resources they offer focus on preventing homelessness and hunger. For example, they provide rent help, funds for energy bills and eviction prevention, as well as access to mortgage help. Together these options serve as a countywide safety net for those families and individuals facing eviction, utility disconnections, and hunger. Also click here to learn more on mortgage programs, including how to get help from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Salvation Army of Santa Clara County provides low income, the unemployed, elderly and others with a wide variety of emergency help for bills. Get access to assistance services that can pay your rent, offer one time housing payments, funds for utility bills, and free food. (408) 282-1165

This branch of the Salvation Army serves the needy and low income in the entire Silicon Valley region. While they may have some emergency financial assistance, the charity will really focus on offering holiday programs, free food, meals, senior housing, and homeless prevention. More information.





Sacred Heart Community Service is another leading non-profit agency that provides essential services to low income families and individuals. Get access to food baskets, infant formula, diapers, sack lunches, gently used clothing, rental and housing assistance, and information and referral services to California and federal government programs, such as Section 8 housing.

  • Food assistance is offered from the emergency supplement. Each customer of the agency can get, as resources allow, a grocery bag of nonperishable items, produce, meat product, eggs, a loaf of bread, and more. Free holiday meals may be offered too.
  • A Clothes Closet is in Santa Clara. It allows people to browse and “shop”, free of charge for the items they need, including school or professional work attire.
  • Apply to the Utility Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, at Sacred Heart. This is a federal government funded program that helps low-income households with paying their home energy bills. It operates both during the winter and can help with summer air conditioning bills. Also get assistance in weatherizing your home and making energy-related home repairs to it.
  • Education is a focus of Sacred Heart Community Service. The location wants to educate the entire family and build a culture of academic success. The non-profit will offer classes and workshops in Santa Clara County to low-income families in Spanish and English, English as a Second Language, nutrition, GED training and more.
  • Financial education is available. This can include financial workshops, Credit improvement, personal financial coaching, and savings options and development account referrals.
  • Job programs include vocational coaching and placement. Work with a case manager at a job search center. Sign up for resume writing classes, Interview preparation and access a number of job development and placement services in Santa Clara County. Together you can break the cycle of poverty through asset development, credit improvement, financial coaching, and job placement.
  • The agency will advocate for policy change to fight predatory lending practices and to improve access to government and public benefits.
  • Other services available include programs for children under the age of 5, emergency domestic violence intervention, leadership classes and more.

Work with a case manager applying for Public Benefits, both federal government and state of California. This includes food stamps, Medical, health insurance, utility assistance, WIC, low income housing and more. You can learn about the process and get support to ensure you are treated fairly by the system.

Sacred Heart Community Service offers many other resources. Stop by or call them at 1381 South First St., San Josť, California 95110. Telephone (408) 278-2160. Or more on Sacred Heart programs.





Faith based and regional churches - The non-profits provide free food, clothing, rent assistance and grants. Other resources focus on health care and self-sufficiency. Those programs include medical aid, help with addictions, prescription assistance and employment counseling and shelter. Several churches and religious organizations are part of the network of charities. San Jose California. Call (866) 896-3587. More on Santa Clara churched based support.

Water bills - Several discount programs and payment plans can help low income and struggling individuals pay their water bills. The objective is to provide short term financial assistance so that individuals can keep their water service on when they are faced with a difficult situation. Find more on water assistance in San Jose.

San Jose First Community Services Inc. - The agency can assist low-income families and homeless with providing access to emergency services, i.e, rental and utility aid, clothing, free food vouchers, groceries, transportation assistance, job training, and vocational and employment development services.

Helplines can provide referrals to low income families. All across the county are non-profits that assist the less fortunate. There are programs for single parents, the disabled, and others that are struggling. Whether it is financial aid or a government grant, the service may help. Even medical needs, such as prescription drugs and check ups, can be met. Read Santa Clara Helpline.

Clothing, nonmaterial, and basic needs - Dozens of charities, churches, and non-profits in the northern California region provide low income families, children, and others with free items and possible financial help for basic needs and bills. They may have clothing, furniture, school supplies, or cash for needs such as electric bills, rent, or medications. Many of these centers are Santa Clara clothing closets, thrift stores, churches, or related organizations. Find more free clothing closets.

San Jose and countywide Catholic Charities will assist qualified individuals regardless of religion, age, and gender. The organization administers several low income programs and resources for the working poor, unemployed, and those who are struggling. Some short term financial help may be offered for expenses such as rent, energy bills, or food, but the main focus is on self-sufficiency.

Examples of the Catholic Charity services include housing stabilization. Job training and education programs are administered, such as ESL classes. Get free income tax filing assistance. A number of other assistance programs are available to those who are struggling. Click here.

West Valley Community Services offers a number of resources, some of which depend on the applicants zip code. Examples of services include a shelter and low income housing units. Some of the financial type programs include a free food pantry, clothing closet, holiday programs, resources for children and career/work clothing. Funds may be offered in Santa Clara County for paying rent, security deposits, gasoline and bus vouchers. The non-profit can also process applications for utility bill payment assistance for Pacific Gas and Electric Company through REACH. Information and referral is offered too. 10104 Vista Drive, Cupertino, call 408-255-8033. Find additional information on West Valley Community Services.





Holiday programs and free Christmas gifts are disbursed from charities and churches. Several non-profits in Santa Clara County also serve meals and hold parties. Most of the programs are focused on children and seniors, and volunteers may provide food, toys, games, and more. More on Christmas help in Santa Clara.

Santa Clara Department of Employment and Benefit Services provides a number of assistance programs and benefits to low income residents. Most of these are state and federal government resources, including CalFresh Program applications, cash grants, employment programs and help for immigrants. Another focus is on seniors in Santa Clara, and the center may have free meals or food.

The department will focus many of its efforts on self-sufficiency and stability. So clients receive emergency, short term financial aid and access to employment resources. A focus is on families with children, the disabled and elderly that live in the region. Several other public aid programs are offered too. More details Santa Clara public assistance.

Santa Clara legal assistance - Services include support for seniors, the disabled, and youth. Low income and working poor families may receive free advice and representation. The non-profit can cover everything from access to medical care to debt collection and applications for government benefits. Housing Preservation is another key focus. Read more.

HomeFirst of San Jose - Supporting the metropolitan area, the non-profit offers various low income and emergency housing solutions. There may be cash grants to pay rent for a new, affordable apartment. The currently homeless can receive help with a security deposit or access to shelters. Other services from Homefirst include One Stop Job centers, assistance for veterans, and more. Continue.

Legal aid, grants, and vouchers for stopping evictions are all used in Santa Clara County. The social service department as well as charities assist tenants that are living in a crisis. They also offer help to veterans, immigrants, single mothers, and senior citizens. Not only may money be used for rent, but also water or electric bills that if left unpaid could result in homelessness. Continue rehousing and eviction help in Santa Clara County.

Churches offer low income programs from Love Inc. The charity provides information and items using a Clearinghouse model. The churches may be able to provide transportation or help with car repairs. Other resources in Santa Clara County include clothing, budgeting classes, free school supplies or Christmas assistance, and more. The Clearinghouse also offers referrals to other regional support systems. Continue with Santa Clara County Love Programs.

Housing programs can assist individuals/families that were evicted and the homeless. Services range from shelters to transitional housing programs in Santa Clara County. Case managers from the non-profit agencies can help clients find, and pay the rent or security deposits, on new, permanent housing units. So you can also receive information on low income homes and apartments in San Jose and across the entire county. Continue Santa Clara low income housing programs.

San Jose City Team is a national charity made up of volunteers and staff. The non-profit provides support to the working poor and homeless, and many services are offered and the following are some examples.

  • Shelter and transitional housing.
  • Educational services, such as ESL, access to a computer lab or GED classes in Santa Clara County.
  • Free food and hot meals, including a bag of groceries.
  • Much more is provided too, all with a goal of addressing housing, hunger, and self-sufficiency for low income families. More on City Team assistance programs.

Sunnyvale Community Services can assist people facing a temporary crisis. Examples of just some of the services available for qualified members of the community are below. The main office is at 725 Kifer Road. Dial 408-738-4321.

  • The non-profit agency can offer emergency assistance to prevent homelessness, so possible rent help.
  • Food and clothes may be available to prevent hunger for low-income families, the working poor, children and seniors.
  • Look into financial assistance to prevent utility disconnections, evictions, to pay medical, prescriptions, and other critical bills.
  • Help is offered for seniors in Santa Clara that are facing problems of finances, health, housing, and isolation. For example work with staff on securing medical and financial assistance case monitoring, arranging for appropriate services and more.
  • There is also a seasonal Community Christmas Center, in which clients select new gifts for infants through teens, a two-week supply of food, and a household gift for every family member.





Emergency and crisis assistance - The county of Santa Clara has partnered with non-profit agencies to offer a service known as the Emergency Assistance Network. Various organizations partner together to provide free food, grants for utility bills and rent, medicines, and other help. Learn more.

Santa Clara programs that also help all families and individuals in California

Numerous other assistance programs, resources, and services are available for San Jose and Santa Clara County residents. Find other statewide programs to help with bills, medical costs, foreclosures, and more.

Mortgage, foreclosure, and HUD approved agencies

Thousands of Santa Clara homeowners are facing foreclosure. An agency known as Project Sentinel ((408) 842-7740) may be able to help. It is a HUD approved agency that provides several important housing and foreclosure counseling services to residents of Santa Clara County. Project Sentinel housing counselors work closely with homeowners, banks and lenders to find alternatives that allow the homeowner to avoid foreclosure. They explore both federal government and California mortgage assistance programs, and such programs offered by lenders and agencies such as the FHA short refinance program.

Debt reduction and foreclosure prevention

You can get help with paying debts and/or foreclosure counseling from SurePath Financial Solutions. Phone (408) 988-7881. This is another local Santa Clara California based non-profit, HUD approved community service organization. They offer numerous programs, however their core services include counseling on credit, debt reduction, budget, foreclosure, credit card help and housing issues. In addition, the non-profit also offers bankruptcy pre-filing counseling and bankruptcy pre-discharge education, and money management education to qualified individuals.

Information on free medical services

Mayview Community Health Center provides a medical clinic and access to free or discounted, high quality primary health and medical care at three clinics in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto California. Both uninsured or under-insured patients with low incomes receive age-appropriate, free and well coordinated health care. (650) 327-1223

If the location above can’t provide the health care you need, several other non-profit clinics and hospital operate in San Jose and Santa Clara California. These facilities may also be able to offer free services. Find more Santa Clara clinics.

Food vouchers and pantries in Santa Clara County

There are several local food pantries, distribution centers, and non-profits in San Jose, Santa Clara, and throughout the county. Try calling the following. Also click here for non-profits that provide low cost food in California.

  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara - Partners with agencies throughout the region. (800) 984-3663
  • InnVision Food Closet - Has locations in Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose. (650) 325-3663
  • St. Joseph's Family Center - (408) 842-6662
  • West Valley Community Services - (408) 255-8033
  • Get the phone numbers and addresses of other food banks. Numerous distribution centers will work to provide free meals, groceries, and applications to Cal-Fresh benefits (food stamps) for low income families. Locate more food panties in Santa Clara.



By Jon McNamara

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