San Jose Finally Pays Back Sacred Heart for Flood Relief—Years After the Fact

More than three years have come and gone since the Coyote Creek flood tore through San Jose. But last month, the city finally reimbursed Sacred Heart Community Service the nearly $400,000 it incurred by helping families displaced by the disaster.

When Coyote Creek started overflowing in February 2017, local groups mobilized to help the thousands of people flooded out of hearth and home. Sacred Heart got $2.5 million from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to dole out to victims.

But in an effort to ensure that most of the $2.5 million went to those in need, Sacred Heart Director Poncho Guevara said he dipped into the organization’s own funds and “absorbed all of [its] personnel and administrative expenses and provided additional direct resources” to the tune of $397,153.

In March 2018, San Jose accepted a $5.4 million grant from California’s Department of Social Services to aid low-income residents impacted by the flood.

Guevara said that’s when the non-profit began a “dialogue” to see if those dollars could be used to reimburse Sacred Heart.

Two years passed before he saw a dime of it.

Jeff Scott, spokesman for the city’s housing department, tells Fly that “it doesn’t typically take this long” to pay folks back.

“To streamline our ask of the City Council, we were planning to bundle the reimbursement with several flood grant awards,” Scott explained. “However, the grant awards have been delayed in the procurement, planning and negotiation process.”

When COVID-19 came along, city bureaucrats realized the process could get delayed even further and opted to finally pay up.

Despite the delay, Guevera tells Fly that he’s happy the non-profit finally got its due.

“Many of the victims already came to Sacred Heart for help,” he said in a recent interview. “If we hadn’t, many families would have been displaced from this community or come to us in greater desperation.”

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4 Comments

  1. > In March 2018, San Jose accepted a $5.4 million grant from California’s Department of Social Services to aid low-income residents impacted by the flood.

    . . . .

    > Two years passed before he saw a dime of it.

    $5.4 million dollars? Two years?

    Whose bank account was the money sitting in for two years?

    How much money did it earn?

    Who spent the money that was earned?

    If anyone has $5.4 million that they don’t need for two years, I’ll hold it for you. I won’t even charge you.

  2. Why is Sacred Heart entitled to any reimbursement from the taxpayers?. San Jose spent taxpayer money without proper vetting or accounting oversight. It is basically an illegal expenditure of public funds, which is a crime that should be investigated by the Sate Attorney General, but fat chance that will ever happen. Why am I asking these questions instead of the amateur pseudo journalists at SJI, who almost never ask the tough questions? But they are in good company. Not a single liberal journalist has asked the tough questions for years now. They just swallow the party line and parrot what they are told. After this, I guess I’ll either be severely edited, or banned from SJI entirely.
    Sacred Heart does a lot of good work for its constituency. But the bill it submitted to CSJ is nothing but an accounting reallocation of funds to a different purpose. That money would have been spent on something else and those staff members would have been employed doing something else. So, just because it went to flood victim relief does not mean the taxpayers should reimburse Sacred Heart without proper investigation.
    Sacred Heart has friends in high places, so they just got a pass and their bill was paid without question.

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