About the Jewish Community Safety Net


JFCS East Bay’s Jewish Community Safety Net (JCSN) program is designed to help stabilize Jewish community members in the East Bay who are going through challenging times. The program offers emergency financial assistance alongside information/navigation services, benefits application assistance, ongoing telephone support, food delivery services, and mental health support.

“This program supports those who are struggling with financial distress, food insecurity, physical and mental health, and more,” says Rita Clancy, Director of Adult Services. “We provide essential services and work in a way that people feel cared about and don’t feel alone.”

“It brings a lot of meaning to our work to see that our community members reach out to us and can get the access they need to food, healthcare, assistance with housing, and financial support. We’re happy that now we’re also able to offer mental health services,” Rita Clancy says. “Of course, we would like to do a lot more and meet the needs of those who can use continuous help with chronic challenges and bring more stability into more people’s lives.”

How the Safety Net Began

In March 2020, social activity in the United States came to a halt as millions of individuals and families sheltered in place to avoid spreading and contracting COVID-19.

As businesses shut down in the East Bay and in the U.S. in general, millions lost their incomes. Low-income adults and older adults, who were already facing challenges before the pandemic, were hit the hardest.

Older adults face unique challenges during the COVID-19 crisis; they are more likely to be socially isolated, struggle with health issues, suffer serious health consequences from COVID-19, and even more likely to die from the infection.

In addition to older adults, people of all ages reached out to JFCS East Bay for help. With Bay Area housing prices already famously elevated, rent assistance was one of the first requests our agency received. “We saw the community’s need,” says Rita Clancy. “With the support from the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, we were able to start assisting all who reached out and we were able to ramp up our services.”

The program launched successfully in April of 2020.

A typical client story:

Estelle is a Jewish woman in her fifties, living in Alameda County. After she lost her job a few months ago, she contacted JFCS East Bay for assistance paying her bills. Even though she also received unemployment benefits, she was still struggling to keep up with her day-to-day bills such as utilities, medical expenses, and groceries.

Estelle was delighted to find out she qualified for financial assistance through the JCSN program. The payments helped her keep her situation stable while she searched for a new job. Once she was hired into her new position, the JCSN program helped her afford her transportation expenses to get to and from work until she received her first paycheck.

Estelle told us she was very thankful for the assistance because it allowed her to get back on her feet during these unprecedented, challenging times.

The Jewish Community Safety Net includes the following services:

  • Emergency Financial Assistance: Focused on helping people with basic needs, such as food, housing, utilities, medical care, and transportation.
  • Information & Navigation Services: Information, referrals, and assistance in accessing other community resources.
  • Benefits Enrollment Assistance: Applying for unemployment insurance, Medi-Cal, CalFresh food assistance, and other benefits.
  • Food Delivery: For seniors and families with particular needs, JFCS East Bay provides funds for volunteers to shop and deliver groceries.
  • Mental Health Services: Therapy services over the phone or video chat can include crisis intervention, short-term counseling, and linkage to longer-term and psychiatric services.

2021-2022 Program Impact:

  • 151 clients served
  • 126 clients received cash assistance ($91,483 total)
  • 226 clients received meal deliveries
  • $2,800-$3,000 average size grant provided to clients
  • Top three needs for which financial assistance was requested: Housing, Medical Care, Food & Homecare

For more information:

If you are in need of assistance, click here for more information about the Jewish Community Safety Net.