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A Safe Place



By Gregory Kepferle

CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and President, Charities Housing Development Corporation


I listen as a young mom with two children prays in thanksgiving, “Dear God, thank you for finding a safe place for our family. Being here makes our lives safer, happier, less stressful. Lord, I am grateful that there are good people that manage this community and help make each day better. Lord, I ask that through Catholic Charities others who also need a home may also be blessed. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Amen.” Hearing her prayer of gratitude lifts my own heart, because I know she and her children are safe, have a stable roof over their heads, and have an opportunity to thrive.

he is just one of 2,487 people who found permanent affordable housing through Charities Housing Development Corporation’s apartments throughout Santa Clara County. Charities Housing is the housing development affiliate corporation of Catholic Charities with 1,215 units of affordable housing including apartments for seniors, families, individuals with disabilities, formerly homeless, and workers struggling to make ends meet. This includes 11 houses for seniors sharing housing.

Thanks to Santa Clara County’s Measure A and tax credit investors, and the support of neighbors and congregations, we continue to build permanent supportive housing throughout the region. Yet, even with Charities Housing and the other nonprofit housing developers working at full tilt, the demand for affordable housing is staggering. We not only need more supportive housing for homeless seniors, veterans, families, and individuals with disabilities, but also basic workforce housing for our teachers, service workers, and our own staff in San Jose. That’s why Charities Housing and Catholic Charities support Measure V in San Jose to bring additional financing to build more affordable housing including workforce housing.

Until the permanent housing solutions are found, we also need support for other creative options such as the House Sharing program funded by Santa Clara County and managed by Catholic Charities, and Village House interfaith congregation-based rotating evening shelter and day centers for homeless women managed by Holy Spirit Parish. And of course, individuals and families continue to need emergency shelter and transitional housing, as well as emergency rental assistance provided by parishes and other nonprofits.

The housing crisis is a “wicked” problem, meaning it is too big to be solved by one program or one agency alone. People ask, “It’s so overwhelming, what can I do?” I encourage readers to get to know your neighbors who struggle with housing and homelessness. San Jose residents can support Measure V. Explore opening your home through Catholic Charities House Sharing. Show up to City Council and Planning Commission meetings in support of affordable housing. Explore opening up church sites to safe parking, rotating shelters, or permanent affordable housing for teachers, staff, and struggling families. Donate to Catholic Charities’ impact fund for Housing.

By working together and supporting multiple creative solutions, we can get closer to providing a safe place for all.

For more information go to www.CharitiesHousing.org.

To donate visit www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.