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Unsung Heroes: Week of June 1

Post Date:06/04/2020 3:30 PM

Housing Department - Grants Management Team

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Housing’s Grants Management Team was just approaching their busiest season of the year – contract development and negotiations with partner agencies that provide critical services to the City’s homeless community. The team was on track to get 40+ contracts executed before June 30 so that services could start by July 1. Then COVID-19 came and the team had to settle into a new normal with a heavy workload.

In April, the first wave of Federal funding came in to assist the City’s response to the pandemic, including help with rental assistance, sheltering the homeless, food access, and small business grants. This funding is funneled through a local nonprofit partner, which means the City has to negotiate, develop, and execute a contract. In just a few weeks, more than 12 (and the number keeps rising) new contracts had to be cranked out by the Grants Management team. All of the normal contract procedures still have to take place electronically but in a much tighter timeframe.

While the team was managing their regular duties including reviewing and approving reimbursement requests to ensure that funds are spent as they should be, reviewing quarterly reports to ensure agencies are meeting their projected goals, and developing procurements to get a new service out to the community, they had to really put their thinking caps on and think of ways the new CARES funding could be used in the best way possible to support the San Jose community. Shirlee Victorio said, “Our plates were overloaded in a way that we’ve never felt before. It was entirely draining and stressful but it needed to be done, and it was worth it!”

The Grants Management team members all share the same bottom line: do whatever is best for the community even though it might mean more work for them. Those around them say that they make it look so easy. They display the true definition of a team: They volunteer to take on contracts because they know their colleagues are at maximum capacity. They set up working meetings on Zoom to figure things out if someone gets stuck. They check up on each other. They leave food for each other on their door steps. They are so innovative, so supportive, so dependable, and they do their work with TLC. Shirlee added, “I am proud of this team’s efficiency and of its morale. They deserve to be recognized for all their hard work: past, present, and future!”

Thank you to the Housing Department's Unsung Heroes: Robert Lopez, Lynn Hua, April Ensign, Rene Ayala, Gabriel Borden, Warda Ali, Therese Tran, and Shirlee Victorio with the leadership of Kristen Clements, Ragan Henninger, and Jacky Morales-Ferrand.

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