Workers countywide struggling with unemployment, withheld payments and mounting expenses as Santa Clara County nears one month under a shelter-in-place order can access support through a new hotline for the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 Assistance Navigation hotline, or "CAN," is a free resource from the Fair Workplace Collaborative and connects residents to lawyers, information about unemployment applications, housing, food banks, and financial aid during the crisis.
An eviction moratorium is in place to protect residents who are unable to pay rent, but many have exhausted their bank accounts to pay off remaining expenses from April, San Jose City Councilwoman Maya Esparza said Thursday. With no income or reduced hours, many are nearing desperate financial situations.
Supervisor Dave Cortese said the hotline is designed to support people in "oppressive" and "untenable" employment situations. He gave the example of a young woman who did not receive a paycheck because her employer was only paying senior employees and laying off workers until the crisis passed.
"These are exactly the kind of calls that we want to receive through this hotline, and people should rest assured that they can make that call without fear of repercussion or retaliation," Cortese said in a virtual news conference Thursday.
The Fair Workplace Collaborative is partnering with the Legal Advice Hotline to provide individualized advice. Lawyer Ruth Silver Taube said the hotline has received calls about essential workers being denied personal protective equipment and employers threatening to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an employee skips work.
The legal aid hotline also handles daily requests about navigating online systems to request resources and services.
"We are here for you, Santa Clara County CAN is here to connect you to the resources you and your family may need." said Jessica Vollmer, director of the Fair Workplace Collaborative through Working Partnerships USA.
Residents can reach the CAN hotline at 408-809-2124. Services are currently available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese with more languages being added.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.