October 11, 2020: A Statement from Tom Collishaw, CEO of Self-Help Enterprises:
It has been more than six months since Self-Help Enterprises closed its offices to the public, yet during that time we have kept open the doors to opportunity for the people we serve. While continuing our essential work in promoting homeownership, developing rental housing, providing alternative energy options, and facilitating community infrastructure and clean water solutions, we have added emergency response to our array of services. This has come in the form of providing direct financial assistance to households struggling with the effects of the pandemic, as well as individuals facing evictions, loss of a home, wildfires, and their wells running dry.
The need for our housing development and other services has never been more critical, and we remain focused on our mission in a changed environment and business landscape. Our offices remain closed to the public, and the vast majority of our staff team are working from home. When the work of field staff or those who visit the office bring them into contact with partners, clients, the public, or fellow staff, strict protocols are in place to maximize health and safety.
SHE also remains committed to racial and social equity in all of its pursuits. And we remind everyone that over the next month, it is imperative that you:
1. Participate in the Census; and
Updates on our specific programs and services can be found below. If you need to contact us, please call (559) 651-1000.
Community Development: Community Development programs, including sewer, water and energy, continue operations with appropriate work accommodations during the pandemic. The majority of staff are working from home with cell phone, remote access to files, and continue daily activities including coordination with State and Federal funding agencies, Counties, Districts, project partners and community partners. Our Leadership Institute workshops are now virtual utilizing ZOOM, more information here. To protect your health and safety, and that of our staff, we are only conducting limited community outreach activities following social distancing while taking personal protective measures, including wearing masks. We have conference lines and ZOOM accounts available to facilitate teleconferencing of public meetings. Please contact us if you need access to a conference line or ZOOM account.
Our commitment to serving our communities continues during this time. Please do not hesitate to contact us via the normal communication channels.
Drinking Water for Schools Program: DWFS SHE Program Staff encourages contracted schools to contact Cecilia Vela email@example.com if they are concerned about meeting DWFS deadlines or regarding the feasibility of their projects amid COVID-19 closures.
Down Payment Assistance Program: The Homebuyer Staff are continuing to receive applications via email, with all communication continuing via phone and email. All in person marketing has been put on hold, but other marketing opportunities have opened by via Zoom, Skype and electronic methods. Final loan approval meetings with our partners are primarily done remotely, but if in person is the only option, safe COVID practices are followed. We’ve worked hard these past few months to keep our webpage current; using as our main tool to disseminate program guidelines, income limits, sales price limits, submission forms and so forth.
Self-Help Housing: At building sites, construction will continue in all areas where allowed by local health authorities. All participants and family volunteers are being educated on safe habits, including hand-washing, refraining from touching face, regular cleaning of commonly used objects (such as hand tools that are shared), and coughing/sneezing into the inside of elbows. Social distancing practices are being practiced on site, and people are being asked to stay home if they feel sick (particularly for the big 3 symptoms identified from the virus – fever, cough, or shortness of breath.)
Emergency Services Program: At the moment, our Emergency Services Program Team is only taking calls for folks needing emergency access to water. All other service calls, including water well assessment requests are on hold until further notice.
Emergency Preparedness: Our partner Friends of Tulare County has been working diligently to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reaching out to many of our diverse groups in Tulare County through TV and Radio commercials. Click here to view videos in a variety of different languages.
Real Estate Development: Real Estate Development has suspended all non-essential meetings and travel, but is proceeding with construction and development activities as planned. Projects under construction, including rehabilitation of units, is proceeding with precautions being implemented. We are available to participate in design meetings, engagement with local government partners, and other meetings via teleconference.
The Gateway Program: The Homeownership Counseling and Education Program is currently functioning as normal with all classes and one-on-one sessions via phone. We ask participants to submit documentation via upload to our website rather than mailing or emailing.
Volunteer Opportunities: We are not scheduling any new volunteers until further notice.
Rehabilitation Program: Our Housing Rehabilitation Department has suspended all non-essential meetings and travel, but is proceeding with participant financing applications and construction activities as planned. Projects under construction, including rehabilitation of units, is proceeding with precautions being implemented.
Rental Housing Sites:
- Safe practices related to COVID-19 are posted in multiple areas at each site and provided to each unit.
- Additional cleaning of open and communal spaces is taking place, including computer labs, stairways and other common areas.
- Site managers remain on duty. Maintenance staff are still on duty facilitating necessary protocols to handle unit repair needs.
- Resident Communication – Site managers and SHE are providing communication in various forms to residents during this time. This includes emails, posted memos and phone calls to residents. We are responding to necessary supply requests from our residents.
- Afterschool programs have been suspended.
- Head Start programs in Wasco and Madera are currently suspended by the program host.
- Computer labs remain open for individual resident and student needs.
- Community Centers are closed to all large gatherings. All in-person partner programs and services are postponed.
- Health Services – Health services related to COVID-19 are allowed to take place at the sites.
- Housing Applications – Applications remain available at our sites. Site Managers can provide applications.