One-Time Housing Assistance Aims to Prevent Homelessness in Pacifica

If a Pacifica resident is behind on their rent, in jeopardy of becoming homeless or needs help with move-in costs, the Pacifica Resource Center may be able to help.

In a 2011 homeless one-day count by the Pacifica Resource Center (PRC), 95 homeless individuals were identified in Pacifica. This number was up from 16 in 2009 and seven from 2007.

Here’s another fact: Nearly 10 percent of Pacifica residents earn under $25,000 a year and 2.9 percent of Pacifica households live under the federal poverty line, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 American Community Survey.

And did you know that the unemployment rate for Pacifica is currently 8.2 percent — higher than the unemployment rate for San Mateo County as a whole?

These are real issues facing the Pacifica community and Anita Rees, executive director of the Pacifica Resource Center, which helps stabilize Pacifica families and individuals by providing a safety net of food, housing assistance, and other critical services along with advocacy, coaching, information, and referral.

“Our vision is to assure the basic needs of every Pacifican are met so that every member of our community has food, shelter, and the opportunity to thrive,” said Rees.

This includes one-time housing assistance grants for residents behind on their rent and in jeopardy of becoming homeless or need to move, but can’t afford the move-in costs.

Over just the last year, Pacifica Resource Center has helped 61 families maintain their housing and prevented homelessness through their one-time housing assistance grants.

“Requests for housing assistance continues to climb, but with limited resources and without the ‘ability to maintain’ it is difficult for us to serve everyone that needs it,” said Rees.

“Ability to maintain” means that a family must be able to demonstrate that they can pay their rent and basic household bills after the assistance is given.

“If a family cannot maintain their household, then we cannot give the funds,” said Rees. “We have limited resources and need to be sure that who we serve is better off not worse off after the assistance.”

Given the high cost of living in San Mateo County — the self-sufficiency standard for San Mateo County is $78,945 per year for a family of three (one adult and two children) — it is not surprising that there is more need than resources available, according to Rees.

More than one in three households live below $78,945 in San Mateo County even though the median family income in Pacifica in 2010 was $100,563. The self-sufficiency standard is the actual cost of living for different household types that includes costs for housing, food, health care, taxes, and childcare, according to Rees. Further exasperating these financial challenges, is the unemployment rate for Pacifica.

Indeed, the numbers of need over resources are staggering:

• August 2009: 201 families needed housing assistance, PRC was able to fund 20 requests for financial assistance.

• September 2010: 245 families needed assistance with 49 receiving financial assistance.

• In October 2011: 331 families needed assistance with 28 receiving assistance from PRC.

• September 2012: 357 needed assistance with 61 receiving financial assistance.

PRC has been helping Pacifica residents since 1974, working with businesses, organizations, and individuals in the neighborhood to provide food and basic needs to their neighbors. Housing assistance has been offered since the early to mid-1990s with homeless prevention as a core service. 

“In general, everyone who needs housing assistance receives some form of assistance, but a much smaller number get financial assistance to pay back rent or deposit and rent to move to a more affordable place," said Rees. "The fluctuations in the number of families served has more to do with the funding for our housing assistance grants.”

Funding currently comes from Season of Sharing, a Bay Area wide program funded by the Haas Foundation and the San Francisco Chronicle and the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) federal program.

“Each program has its own eligibility criteria but is similar in the way we use it,” said Rees, who adds that the most important thing she thinks Pacifica residents need to know about PRC and their housing assistance program is that it exists.

“I fear that there are more people out there that could use our help, but they either don’t know about it or are afraid to ask,” she said.

Pacifica resident Abby Curtin says she could not have made the move into affordable housing that accommodates her needs without the Season of Sharing Fund, “and the excellent service provided by Pacifica Resource Center staff,” she said. “The PRC made the application process understandable. I am very, very happy.”

To be eligible, you must…

• Be a current Pacifica resident. This generally means that you have lived in Pacifica for at least 30 days.

• Have experienced a recent financial setback that has resulted in you being behind on your rent, mortgage (in some cases), and/or utility payments.

• Have enough income to pay rent and household bills in the months after receiving PRC housing assistance, if approved.

In addition, one of the following must apply to your household:

• Be a parent/guardian of a child under 18 years, OR

• Be at least 60 years of age, OR

• Have a documented disability (certified by the Social Security Administration or EDD/State Disability), OR

• Have gross income under 100% of the Federal Poverty Level in the last 30 days. See chart below

Household Size

Income Limit







Other one-time grants for housing assistance may be available with a referral from the PRC if you or someone in your household is a veteran, a single-parent enrolled in school, or an individual living with breast cancer, HIV, or a mental health diagnosis.

Please call the PRC at (650) 738-7470 for additional information or to schedule a confidential appointment to determine eligibility for a one-time grant for housing assistance or any of our other services.

The homeless count is done one day every two years. PRC will be organizing one in January 2013.


Donate to the PRC

Make a Donation to Pacifica Resource Center, a Project of the Tides Center, and help PRC provide a safety net to a Pacifica resident.

A donation of any amount is greatly appreciated by the PRC and the families and individuals they serve everyday.

How Your Donations Help Your Neighbors


  • keeps a baby in diapers for a month OR
  • pays for a holiday meal for a family of 4


  • feeds a family of three for one week OR
  • covers the cost of a financial coaching session to help a family save money to achieve their goals


  • houses a family for a night at a local motel so they can get out of the cold and off of the streets OR
  • buys 50 bus tickets to help a neighbor get to and from work, school, or medical appointments


  • buys a much needed new freezer for the pantry to store ground turkey and other perishable items for our pantry “shoppers”


  • provides emergency assistance for a family in crisis helping them stay housed and avoid becoming homeless OR
  • funds 50 new backpacks and school supplies for our Pacifica youth enrolled in our Back to School program

Pacifica Resource Center is located at 1809 Palmetto Avenue Pacifica, CA  94044. Call (650) 738 7470 for more information.


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Dee September 27, 2012 at 02:48 PM
So much need out there. Stunned by how many people I see that appear "down and out" in Pacifica. Read the police blotter and it seems every other incident is related to transients, homeless people and tenants unable to pay their rent. Way to go Pacifica Resource Center for the work you do. A donation is on its way.
Lionel Emde September 27, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Good story, Christa. People who might not be able to donate cash should consider donating unwanted items to the October 13 "Sweep" that Pacificans Care is sponsoring all over the city as garage sales. PC supports the Resource Center as well as other worthy Pacifica projects.


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