A message from President & CEO, Janice Jensen, on COVID-19


By Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley

UPDATE AS OF 6/3/2020

Dear Habitat Family,

As you know, the Bay Area is taking steps to reopen. We have closely monitored county guidelines and public health advice and have enacted a plan for bringing our volunteer community back into our work. This week our regular volunteers joined us and we plan to phase in individuals and groups over the month of June and beyond. Our top priority is the health and safety of volunteers, staff, and the community, and we have detailed health and safety protocols that are strictly enforced. We miss our volunteers and cannot wait to have you back! Take a look here for individual volunteer opportunities, and for group volunteering or any additional questions, please get in touch with our Volunteer Team at Volunteer@HabitatEBSV.org.

Even as we’ve sheltered in place, we have been busy! We are more committed than ever to serving our community through this crisis and beyond, and I’d like to share what we’ve been up to as we have pivoted our work across our service area and throughout our programs these last two months.

Emergency Protection for the Most Vulnerable

People experiencing homelessness are also among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.With a lack of access to sanitation and the option to physically distance, they are particularly susceptible to contracting and spreading this virus. That’s why we’re working with the City of San José to build 288 units of emergency and interim housing. These communities will serve our unhoused neighbors who are at especially high risk for severe illness if exposed to COVID (older adults and persons with disabilities and/or existing medical conditions), offering the chance to shelter in place, safely distance, and access sanitation and key services. By protecting these neighbors, our entire community will be safer, too. Even before the onset of this crisis, we have been building communities to support our unhoused neighbors. Our first community on Mabury Road is fully occupied and even in its first few weeks began “graduating” participants into permanent housing. We build to keep our neighbors safe today, and to help more people cross that bridge to stability with security, support, and dignity.

Keeping People in Their Homes

Our Home Preservation Program takes the stay-at-home order literally – by continuing the repairs that let low-income homeowners stay in their homes. Though we’ve modified our protocol to maintain distance and sanitation, our team continues to perform critical repairs that let neighbors remain in their homes and age safely and comfortably in place.

Affordable Homeownership

Although we’re missing our volunteers, Habitat is still working hard to bring homeownership within reach of more families. Our site staff builds on at Central Commons in Fremont, readying the last 19 homes of this neighborhood for their future homeowners this summer. We’re also keeping our project pipeline robust, continuing to advance future developments throughout our service area. Nearest on the horizon is our 42-home Esperanza Place development in Walnut Creek. Our team is getting the site ready for groundbreaking this summer, and we hope to start vertical construction with volunteers in Spring/Summer 2021.

Empowering Others Through Housing Counseling

Despite the distance, our Housing Counselors are hard at work. The team got creative as soon as the shelter-in-place order took effect, implementing one-on-one video counseling sessions and financial education workshops via webinar. We plan to dramatically expand our web-based housing counseling services in response to the anticipated financial recession. We will keep serving our community by building strong financial foundations that empower people to reach their goals.

Thank you for your patience and for staying engaged with Habitat during this unprecedented time.

Be well,

Janice Jensen
President & CEO
Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley

P.S. You can help keep us building forward by giving in support. Click here to learn more!

Support the COVID Resiliency Fund

UPDATE AS OF 3/31/2020

Dear Habitat Family,

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.

The Bay Area-wide shelter-in-place order has officially been extended until at least May 3rd. Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley will continue to observe the order by extending the suspension of volunteerism until further notice. The suspension applies to all volunteerism – Central Commons, Bridge Housing Communities, Playhouse, and all ReStores.

In these circumstances, I appreciate more than ever what a precious resource our volunteers are. I look forward to that moment when we can welcome your helping hands back into our work. Until then, you can stay engaged by connecting with us on social media, and by supporting our COVID-19 Resiliency Fund.

We’ll continue to update this page with new information as the situation evolves. Be well, and I know we’ll build together again soon.  

Janice Jensen
Janice Jensen
President & CEO
Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley

P.S. If you have any questions, our team is here to answer them. You can find staff information at our Contact Us page.

UPDATE AS 3/16/2020

ALL VOLUNTEERISM IS SUSPENDED 

Dear Habitat Family,

Habitat for Humanity is founded on the belief that we’re all in this together. COVID-19 is on the rise and we are taking decisive, unprecedented action to protect our community and slow the spread of this virus.

In accordance with the “shelter in place” order for six Bay Area counties, we are suspending all volunteerism through at least April 7. This includes volunteerism at all construction sites (new construction, home repair, and Bridge Housing), Playhouse workshops and builds, our three ReStore locations, and both offices.

All volunteer events are currently suspended through April 7th, but a longer suspension is possible as the situation changes. We will keep this page updated with the most current information, so please check back in!

This unprecedented pandemic hinders our ability to serve the community. We are all impacted by this crisis, but if you can, please help Habitat – and our community – weather this storm by supporting us with a donation. 

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While we struggle to continue serving our mission, the people we serve are among the hardest hit by this crisis. They are the seniors who depend on our Home Preservation Program to keep them safe and healthy in their homes. They are our unhoused neighbors for whom Bridge Housing is their lifeline to stability. They are our families striving for a foothold in an unforgiving homeownership market. They are our service providers, our healthcare workers. They are the people at the front lines, for whom a lost paycheck, lost childcare, can be disastrous.

We hope to resume normal operations as soon as possible. In this ever-evolving situation, we will continue to keep a close eye on expert recommendations and update you on new decisions. Please stay safe, look out for each other, and together, we will build a way forward.

With gratitude,

Janice Jensen
Janice Jensen
President & CEO
Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley

P.S. We know that new information changes this crisis daily, and that you may have questions about how to engage with Habitat in the meantime. Please reach out to us with any questions at our Contact Us page on our website.


ORIGINAL POST PUBLISHED 3/13/2020:

Dear Habitat family,

Our work at Habitat for Humanity is about community. We bring people together to build a world where everyone has a decent place to live. In the face of growing concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to ensure – first and foremost – the health and safety of this community while continuing to work toward our mission.

As this situation evolves, we are closely monitoring advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local agencies. We will continually update this message with any new information about actions and recommendations, including postponement of events and volunteerism if warranted.

Currently, all our volunteer sites and ReStores are open. However, to protect the health of our volunteers, clients, and staff, we are taking the following measures and recommending the following precautions:

  • Per CDC recommendations, anyone who is exhibiting cold, flu, fever, or respiratory illness symptoms is asked to refrain from joining a Habitat event or build or visiting a Habitat ReStore or office until you are free of such symptoms for at least 24-48 hours without the use of medication.
  • Similarly, anyone who has potentially been exposed to the virus through travel to one of the areas designated by the CDC as level 3 or on a cruise ship, is also asked to refrain from joining a Habitat event or build or visiting a Habitat ReStore or office. Additionally, please refrain if a member of your household or close contact has potentially been exposed.
  • If you belong to a higher-risk group, we recommend that you refrain from volunteering until the virus has been well contained. Higher-risk populations include older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.
  • Our staff members are following these same health and safety protocols.
  • Please let us know if you decide not to volunteer as previously planned, so that we can adjust accordingly. When you are feeling well, please reschedule your volunteer day – we’d love to have you out with us when you are feeling your best.
  • We are observing heightened cleaning and sanitization practices in all volunteer venues. We are ensuring easy access to handwashing stations, and we encourage volunteers to bring their own alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • We are limiting gatherings and reducing volunteer numbers to allow for social distancing at all volunteer venues. When volunteering, maintain appropriate distance from others.
  • Handwashing is your best protection! Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially upon arrival at site, after using the restroom, before and after eating, after blowing your nose or coughing or sneezing, and before leaving site.
  • If you do need to cough or sneeze, turn away from others, and cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Dispose of any tissues and wash your hands afterward.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, or face.

We know that many are feeling concerned about this virus, and your health and safety are our top priority. We will continue to follow the best available advice, and to listen to our community, as the situation progresses. Please know that the above protocols may change as we receive more information about the situation.  In the meantime, we thank you for helping us keep our community healthy today, so that we can keep building a stronger tomorrow.  

If you have questions regarding volunteering, shopping or donating to the ReStore, or visiting our Oakland or Milpitas office, please refer to our Contact Us page to find a staff member who can help you.

Yours in partnership, 

Janice Jensen

Janice Jensen 
President & CEO, Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley

About the Author

Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley

As an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley believes in a world where everyone has a decent place to live. We create opportunities for families to transform their lives, gaining the strength, stability, and self-reliance they need to build a better future. Working together as a community, we build homes with affordable mortgages, repair and renovate existing homes, counsel first-time homebuyers, and revitalize neighborhoods in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties. For more information, please call 866.450.4432.

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