Silicon Valley’s high cost of living has long made it difficult for those from out of town getting treatment at one of the area’s many hospitals to access affordable temporary housing. The problem has only gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset, leading to many financial hardships. However, a partnership between Prometheus Apartments and local nonprofit JW House has yielded a new option for families dealing with medical crises.
This summer, Prometheus and JW House unveiled a new extended-stay home in Santa Clara for families with a loved one getting treatment at a Silicon Valley hospital. It’s a one-bedroom unit in the Alderwood Apartments development that contains an extra pull-out couch for families coming in from outside the area to stay with a loved one undergoing medical care. It’s also five minutes from Kaiser Permanente.
“A lot of times these families have a newborn baby who is in the [neonatal intensive care unit], and it’s so important for them to be very close to the hospital so that they can be with their baby,” said Emily Iverson Development and Communications Manager for JW House. “We just had a family that was there for almost two months with a baby in the NICU, so we realized that we need to expand to be a lot more sustainable.”
JW House’s mission is to offer housing to families accessing medical services who live far away and struggle to afford transportation costs to make frequent hospital visits or the going hotel rates. Iverson said the program asks families to pay $60 per night to stay in one of the program’s units but that a Family Services Manager is available to work with families to figure out a rate they can afford.
Currently, JW House has a house with four units available to families, and the organization also works with local hotels that offer discounted rates to those in JW House’s programs. However, the need for medical crisis housing units far exceeds the supply, and JW House is forced to turn many families away. The units that they do have are almost always full, Iverson said.
As part of the arrangement, Prometheus is donating $25,000 to JW House’s Overnight Stay program, which will cover the cost of rent for the Prometheus Family Suite for a year. The partnership naturally grew out of a past relationship with Prometheus in which the company donated many volunteer hours to JW House.
“Our hope is for this to be the beginning of more programs, whether it be through pursuing similar opportunities in the future where we’re able to have more apartments or just the general expansion of our overnight program,” said Iverson. “This is sort of the pilot program.”
A ribbon-cutting for the Alderwood unit was held on Aug. 4, attended by Mayor Lisa Gillmor, representatives from Prometheus Apartments, JW House and community members. The suite is currently available to families and is designed for stays between two weeks and two months.
“We’re so excited about this partnership with Prometheus Apartments,” said Iverson. “They are huge supporters for us for so long, and it’s awesome that we have finally been able to reach this milestone; we’re so excited that this is going to be the beginning of hopefully many more expansions of our overnight program.”