Among the communities hit hard by recent storms are people who are undocumented. Many of them had to evacuate but face language barriers and have a hard time accessing resources.
Carmen, a single mother of three, was forced to evacuate the home she was living in during the Jan. 9 storm.
She said she only had time to grab important documents and clothes. As a farmworker, she was left without a job because of flooding and is now living in a hotel — temporary housing she received through support from the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO).
“During the recent storms, we had a lot of phone calls,” said Mariana Gutierrez, CAPSLO’S Family Resource Center Program Supervisor. “It ranged from 30 to 40 phone calls, not including the referrals we received from their community agencies, school districts.”
Because of this need, SLO County UndocuSupport stepped in.
“Very quickly with our disaster fund we made grants to seven community-based organizations who work directly with immigrant families, so these are the ones that families would naturally have trust in,” added Joel Diringer, SLO County UndocuSupport’s Community Volunteer.
SLO County UndocuSupport donated $21,000 in grants to Los Osos Cares, the Center for Family Strengthening, the Paso Robles Housing Authority, CAPSLO, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Monterey, 5Cities Homeless Coalition, and the Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success.
“Due to the storms, we had our family advocates engage with our families to provide them direct services, whether that's food support, clothing support,” explained Gutierrez. “Getting them connected with community resources — anything from applying for Cal Fresh assistance or getting that EBT card replacement”
SLO County UndocuSupport is a coalition of several organizations born during the pandemic.
“To help our immigrant population that was really left out of all the federal stimulus efforts and other supports during COVID, and since then, we've grown from providing direct aid to immigrant families who didn't receive any of the federal benefits or state benefits to being an immigrant support and advocacy organizations, county-wide,” said Diringer.
According to USC’s California Immigrant Data Portal, in 2019 there were more than 7,700 undocumented immigrants living in San Luis Obispo County.
“Immigrant workers in this county are sort of the backbone of our ag industry, of our social support, they’re childcare workers, they’re restaurant workers,” said Diringer.
Carmen said she is struggling to make ends meet but she is grateful for the support she’s receiving.
She said she is trying to find a place to relocate her family as soon as possible and is waiting for the fields to dry up to get back to work.
If you know a family with mixed immigration status in need of help, you can call CAPSLO at 805-544-4355. Services are offered in Spanish as well.
To learn more about SLO County UndocuSupport, click here.