Nextdoor AMA with Anita Rees, PRC Executive Director

Thank you all so much for taking the time to send questions and reading the replies. PRC is always available to answer any questions or provide more information, so please feel free to call 650-738-7470, email or visit us at 1809 Palmetto Ave.

Thank you again for your continued support. Together, we are neighbors helping neighbors!

We meet you where you are, in a safe and confidential space, and provide whatever support we can in house to help you achieve your goals.
— Anita Rees, PRC Executive Director

Kirsten Andrews-Schwind, Vallemar asked, "How is PRC so awesome?"

Kirsten, thank you for your question and continued support. PRC is so awesome because our community is awesome and our staff are awesome! We truly see ourselves as Neighbors Helping Neighbors and take pride in providing support to Pacificans who are struggling to make ends meet. We have a client first approach focusing on the individual and being present from greeting to service to developing our ongoing relationship with them. It is built on our CLIENT: C – compassion, L – listening, I – information, E – engagement, N – nonjudgement, and T – trust. One of our core goals is to reinvest in Pacifica and support the community every way possible.

Cynthia Marconi, Sharp Park asked, "Is help available from PRC or other county agencies with securing low-income or subsidized housing? If so, what is the process for getting that?"

Cynthia, thank you for taking the time to send me a question. Our best resource for low-income and subsidized housing in the County is signing up with the Housing Authority for a Moving To Work (MTW) housing "scholarship." Anyone can sign up at When a scholarship is available, the selection is a lottery, not based on when you signed up for the program. Once offered the scholarship, you are invited to apply for the program to determine eligibility. The scholarship can be used for 5 years to subsidize the cost of housing while folks work toward stabilizing or increasing their income to be able to paying their full rent on their own. The scholarship must be used in San Mateo County and you have to find a property owner who will accept a 3rd party payment for your rent.

Other than MTW, there are affordable housing complexes managed by nonprofits, such as MidPen and HIP Housing that have their own wait lists and eligibility requirements. PRC can assist folks with the application processes as well as explore other affordable housing options. We can also provide one-time financial assistance for move in costs (deposit, first month rent), delinquent rent, and mortgage payments if eligible.

Jeneane Crawford, Rockaway Beach asked, "How can we help make the PRC stronger? You do a fantastic job with so little."

Jeneane, thank you for your kind words. Financial support, donations of groceries and other items, community support, and a gifts of your time all make PRC stronger. Financial and inkind support are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. We always need jelly/jam, pasta and pasta sauce, beef stew, powdered and canned milk, cooking oil and baking supplies, macaroni and cheese, ravioli and other canned meals, can openers, diapers (size 4, 5, and 6), new socks, pet food, grocery store gift cards. We happily accept other food items, but please be sure all gifts of food are not past the "best if used by" date. If you would like to give your time, we have a volunteer orientation monthly during our Saturday office hours (usually the 2nd Saturday of the month) at 10:30a. Can't make that time? Contact our Direct Services Manager Marina Castellanos ( or 650 738-7470x2) and schedule a one on one.

Jeffrey Tong, South Westborough who co-founded a NWF Community Wildlife Habitat which includes both Pacifica and San Bruno is interested in partnering with us by PRC being their Pacifica sponsoring contact.

Jeffrey - let's schedule a time to meet and talk. Best way to reach me is by email at I look forward to hearing more about your project and how PRC might be able to help. Thank you!

Hi Peter, thank you for your questions! Peter Key, Linda Mar asked, "What is the elevator pitch for PRC?"

Our elevator pitch is different based on who we're talking with and who is giving the pitch. I'm imagining that I am in an elevator with you and you ask what I do. I'd say... I'm Anita Rees and I'm the director of the Pacifica Resource Center. We provide whatever a family in Pacifica needs to become stable. You can come to PRC any day and leave with food to feed your family. Behind on you rent or mortgage? We may be able to help pay it. Homeless? We can provide a shower, clean clothing, and referrals for shelter. We also provide no cost tax services and savings programs to help you think beyond an emergency and plan for the future. And, by family, I mean a family with children or a family of one. We meet you where you are, in a safe and confidential space, and provide whatever support we can in house to help you achieve your goals. We truly see ourselves as neighbors helping neighbors.

"How many people does PRC serve?"

PRC serves 1 in 10 Pacifica families, but we know that nearly 5 in 10 families could benefit from our services, given the high cost of living in San Mateo County.

"Who is eligible for services?"

Pacifica residents struggling to make ends meet. If we don't provide the resources in house, we will provide referrals for services.

"What kind of budget does PRC have?"

Our fiscal year 18-19 budget is $1,342,585, which includes $485,000 of inkind support from Second Harvest Food Bank for our food programs.

"Is PRC's budget mostly from donations?"

Funding sources include inkind goods and services (37.5%), government support (17.5%), community support (15%), foundation support (11%), corporate support (8%), individual donors (7%), and net fundraising events (4%)

"What kind of services does PRC have?"

PRC provides food programs to help Pacificans feed their families through weekly and monthly food distributions, daily drop in food, and emergency pantry visits; housing assistance and homeless services to help keep Pacificans housed, including financial assistance for deposits, back rent and mortgages and referrals to county homeless services for shelter and other services PRC does not provide inhouse; Earn It! Keep It! $ave It! programs including cost tax preparation and efiling services to help folks access all tax credits and benefits, matched savings programs, and budgeting and financial coaching; seasonal programs including our Back to School program to help prepare Pacifica youth for the school year with new backpacks and grade-specific school supplies, our Thanksgiving program of food and a gift card for a turkey or other holiday fixings, and our Holiday Gift Program that matches generous donors with PRC families that need help with gifts for their children for the holidays; shower program for our homeless Pacificans to help them prepare for work, job interviews, and housing search; and other critical family needs, including utility payments, transportation assistance (usually bus tickets, but sometimes gas cards, and car repair to get to/from work, school, doctor appointments, etc), diapers and baby formula, or other supports that could help stabilize Pacificans who are struggling.

"What other organizations does PRC work with?"

PRC is one of seven Core Services Agencies that is contracted by the San Mateo County Human Services Agency (HSA) to provide core safety net services to San Mateo County residents. We work closely together to provide food, housing and homeless services, and other critical safety net services to our service area. Our sister Core agencies include Coastside Hope serving Montara, Moss beach, El Granada, and Half Moon Bay; Daly City Community Service Center serving Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City; Fair Oaks Community Center serving Atherton, N. Fair Oaks, Portola Valley, Redwood City, and Woodside; Puente de la Costa Sur serving La Honda, Loma Mar, Pescadero, and San Gregorio; Samaritan House serving Belmont, Burlingame, Foster City, Hillsborough, Millbrae, San Mateo, and San Carlos, as well as temporarily East Palo Alto and Menlo Park; and YMCA Community Resource Center serving Brisbane, San Bruno, and S. San Francisco.

In Pacifica, we work with all departments of the City of Pacifica, nonprofits, churches, community and civic groups and clubs, local businesses, and individual community members to help stabilize struggling families and foster a healthy community.

"How can someone volunteer?"

To volunteer, we ask folks to attend a volunteer orientation, offered monthly during our Saturday office hours (ususally the 2nd Saturday of the month) at 10:30a. Can't make that time? Contact our Direct Services Manager Marina Castellanos ( or 650 738-7470x2) and schedule a one on one. We especially need drivers to help pick up our grocery rescue and other food donations, as well as folks to assist in our computer lab on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

"How can some contribute?"

Community support is core to our ablity to do our work. Whether you contribute financially, with your time, with your influence, or with food and other items that we provide regularly to the families we serve, all if it is welcome!

"How can someone donate?"

To donate, stop by the office (1809 Palmetto Avenue) and drop off your gift, we would love to see you! Give online at

Become a monthly donor through your bank's bill pay or our Network for Good page. Plan a future gift in a trust or your will. All gifts are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law; our tax ID is 81-1496989.

"Does PRC take donations other than money?"

We always need food donations, especially jelly/jam, pasta and pasta sauce, beef stew, powdered and canned milk, cooking oil and baking supplies, macaroni and cheese, ravioli and other canned meals. We happily accept other food items, but please be sure all gifts of food are not past the "best if used by" date. We also have refrigerators and freezers and can take perishable food items.

In addition to food, we can use can openers, diapers (size 4, 5, and 6), new socks, pet food, and grocery store gift cards.

For other items, please give to Pat's Closet, located at 350 90th Street, Daly City. They accept clothing and houseware items. Call (650) 991-8007 or visit for more information. Items at Pat's Closet are given FREE of charge to individuals and families-in-need. We refer our folks there regularly.

"Is PRC hiring?"

Happily, I can say that we are fully staffed with 9 staff members equivalent to 7.25 FTEs. Depending on the outcome of a pending proposal, we may be looking for a part-time (15 hr/wk) grocery recovery and delivery driver. I'll keep you posted.

Whew! I think I got them all ;)

Gloria Stofan, Rockaway Beach asked, "With the increase in homelessness and people living in RVs in Pacifica. How can the PRC help Pacifica deal with this crisis with limited funding and staffing? What can we humanely do as residents?"

Thank you, Gloria, for your questions. There are no shelters on the coast and many of our homeless do not want to leave Pacifica. Unfortunately, there is no consistent funding for brick and mortar shelters as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has shifted their focus to rapid rehousing solutions, minimizing the time in shelter because it has been found that the longer someone is in shelter the harder it is to get re-housed. As a result of this shift, the County of San Mateo did a feasibility study for a rotating shelter on the Coast in 2016 and created an ideal plan for a rotating shelter.

Since then, one of PRC's strategies is to garner community support for a rotating shelter hosted by local churches. We tested the idea at a church in Pacifica in 2017 who hosted three homeless Pacificans inside, as well as allowed five vehicularly housed folks (three vans and one RV) to safely park outside. It was smaller in scale than what is proposed in the County's study, but it was successful in showing the church how it could run. Direct Services Manager Marina Castellanos stayed onsite inside and I slept in my car outside in case there were any issues with neighbors. We have continued reaching out to other churches to test the shelter with the goal of getting five churches to commit to one week every five weeks, which would cover the winter months. Ideally, the churches would give space for the shelter and allow the use of their parking lot for a limited number of vehicularly housed Pacificans.

So far, we have one church committed and one very interested in hosting a test. If you are a member of a church, please consider bringing up the idea of hosting a rotating shelter. I would be happy to meet with the church leadership to share the concept and answer questions. PRC cannot solve homelessness in Pacifica without the support of the community. In our experience, many of our homeless are local or have a connection to Pacifica. Those who don't, often leave or get housed elsewhere after PRC provides them with support and connects them to services.

I am happy to share the County's Coastside Congregational Rotational Shelter Feasibility Study and PRC's write up on the rotating shelter test. Email me at and I'll send it to you.

Steve Sinai, Sharp Park said, "Hi Anita, someone on Nextdoor has claimed PRC has statistics on how many people live in RVs in town, and how many of those are locals who were forced out of their homes. If so, can you give us those numbers? Thanks."

Steve, thank you for question and feel free to reach out to me if you have more specific questions. Based on the Homeless One Day Count (ODC) in 2017, which was the last published report, Pacifica had 112 homeless counted. Of those, 18 were in encampments, 28 were housed in RVs, 45 were in cars, and 21 were on the streets.

In 2018, the County did a "mini" ODC that included Pacifica. We had 108 homeless counted, including 11 in encampments, 46 in RVs, 39 in cars, and 12 on the streets. Please note that this number is NOT the number of RVs, it is the number of people estimated to be in RVs. In 2017, the multiplier for RVs was 1.05 people per RV; therefore, 28 divided by 1.05 people is 26.67 RVs were counted. I'm not sure, but I believe the 2018 ODC used the same multiplier since it wasn't a full ODC; therefore, there were 37.14 RVs counted. This is comparable to Chief Steidle report at the 2/11/19 City Council meeting, when he shared that his officers did an unofficial count over the previous weekend and saw 32-38 RVs parked in Pacifica.

In preparation for the 2/11/19 meeting, community members helped PRC survey folks in RVs. We received 8 surveys. Of those surveyed, we learned that 11 people lived in those 8 RVs; 8 of 11 were 55-69 years old; 9 of 11 considered Pacifica their hometown, having been born and raised here or living here over a decade before losing their housing; average stay in their RV was 2 years, 8 months - the longest 10 years and the shortest 2 weeks; all are employed - 2 part-time; 5 of 11 have a disability or chronic illness but they are working; and, the most common reason for living in an RV is the high cost of housing, second to fire and a death in the family.

The 2017 report can be found at I can send the 2018 report which isn't currently on the County's website. The 2019 ODC was on 1/31/19. A report is forthcoming. The executive summary will be out April-ish; the final report will be out June-ish.

Thursday Roberts, Sharp Park said, "Anita, can you please outline how residents can help our neighbors who are homeless, whether in vehicles or not? It appears the city and county are not able to adequately address this problem, which leaves it to us, the community members. Thanks!"

Hi Thursday. Thank you for taking the time to send in questions. My response is treat our homeless Pacificans as you would treat any other person you meet who may benefit from our services. If you have a chance to talk with them, tell them about PRC and how we might be able to help. Call PRC and let us know where they are. Call our partners with the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) and they can assist us with street outreach to them, especially since we can't always get out to them. Our HOT case manager is Yasmin Mora; her cell is 650-315-9034 and her email is

Give to PRC financially, give inkind support (food, socks, toiletries, etc), give your time to assist with outreach, or give your influence to help garner support for a rotating shelter and/or safe parking site. All of this helps us do our work to help Pacificans become more stable and stay or become housed and gives us the ability to continue to advocate for more County and other resources to address homelessness in Pacifica.

Delia McGrath, Vallemar sid, "Hi, Anita, The deliberate vandalizing of the homes of people in RVs by those who want to push them out of Pacifica concerns me. How are we documenting these egregious acts of unfriendliness so that our community can bring compassionate attention to the needs of those who have been forced to house themselves in vehicles? How authentic/accurate are the "numerous" complaints to the City Council being leveled against the people living in RVs because they have no where else to live? Thank you!"

Delia, thank you for your questions. Regarding vandalism, I only know anecdotally when folks share with us what has happened. I have heard of two incidents that RV dwellers have shared with me. The first was in November 2018 - an RV's windshield was broken; a police report was filed, but the cost of repair is more than the RV is worth. We are working with this family on options. The second was within the last 3 weeks - animal feces was smeared on the door of the RV. I do not know if the family reported it to the police. There is no way to tell if these incidents were opportunistic (wrong place, wrong time) or if they were because of the families are living in an RV.

Regarding the reports about the complaints to City Council about RVs, pulling data is not always easy to do if you are not specifically looking for it and finding a way to track it. The Pacifica Police Department are great partners in our work and do their best to be compassionate while responding to community concerns.

Peter Key, Linda Mar said, "What fundraisers does PRC have? Do other organizations in Pacifica help PRC out? Like the Chamber of Commerce? Elks, Lions, Rotary, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4h, etc... SamCAR even?"

Hi Peter! Great to have you back in the thread :) PRC is always fundraising! But…we have three core fundraising campaigns. In May, we have a Mother's Day card fundraiser - local artists contribute a the art and a card is designed. For a donation of $50+, a card will be sent to anyone you would like to honor for Mother's Day in time for Mother's Day. In August, we have our Palm-a-Palooza fundraiser with food, fun, and a live auction. We're starting to plan this year's Palm-a-Palooza and will have a save the date with this year's theme soon. It is a lot of fun and we encourage costumes! And, finally, in December we organize our year end appeal to raise awareness about our services and raise funds for out work. We have been fortunate to have up to $35,000 of year end gifts matched by the Sam Mazza Foundation, making our year end appeal even more successful. If anyone out there want to help us increase our matching grant, please let me know.

We are very fortunate to have a diverse group of supporters in Pacifica, including many community and civic groups. Many of them sponsor a family for our Holiday Gift Program, organize food drives, and volunteer or contribute space. The American Legion Hall gives us space for a monthly food distribution, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) are core volunteers at the monthly food distribution at the American Legion, the Lions Club helps with eye exams and glasses to name a few regular contributions.

Carolyn Jarmillo, thank you for stopping by and chatting with Development and Communications Coordinator Robby Bancroft. Carolyn asked in person, "What’s PRC’s role in the plan to help RV Dwellers?"

PRC can provide food, sleeping bags or other cold weather items, dumping fees and gas cards to get to a dump site and back, and assistance with finding a legal place to park in an RV park or into housing. To provide this support, RV dwellers need to meet with a case manager and develop a plan to become housed. In addition, PRC will provide assistance to the City and community groups to design and implement a safe parking program and/or a rotating shelter based on the County's feasibility study for a rotational shelter. PRC is not a shelter provider, but we do work with experts in the field who we will bring in once we can show them that there is community support for it.

"How does a Rotating Shelter/Safe Parking Program work?"

Based on the County's feasibility study on a coastside rotating shelter, core components of a rotating shelter/safe parking program are as follows:

  • Hosted at a church or other location. Each location would host for one week every five weeks, less often if more sites were committed.

  • Staff would set up for 7p start time (or later depending on the site) and clean up by 7a the next morning (or earlier depending on the site) with support from those in the shelter and volunteers from the host site.

  • Host sites may or may not provide dinner and continental breakfast with food support from the coordinating agency.

  • Host site or other volunteers are asked to have dinner (not serve dinner) with shelter guests.

  • Fifteen maximum shelter guests.

  • Screening/Prioritizing by local core agency – PRC in Pacifica and Coastside Hope in El Granada

  • Priority to Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) clients.

  • Shelter guests must be part of a plan to become permanently housed.

  • Team approach to case management between PRC, Coastside Hope, HOT, and coordinating agency.

  • Professional, overnight staff with case management training/skills.

  • Focus on empowerment. “With not for.”

  • "Life‐staples" that are currently unavailable should be made available to shelter guests and non‐sheltered homeless, such as place to clean up/wash‐up/shower, access to free laundry machines and supplies, mail can be received at PRC, CH or HH by agreement between client and case manager, internet access with available‐live‐support.

"What are the potential funding sources for all this?"

One potential funding source is the California Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP). The County of San Mateo received funding from HEAP and is in the process of developing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for cities who declared an emergency shelter crisis. Pacifica declared a crisis in December 2018 to be eligible for funding. The RFP is expected in the spring. In addition, County Measure K funds might also be available, as well as private foundation funding.

Suzanne Moore thank you for taking the time to send questions via email. Suzanne asked, "How can Pacifica pay for homeless services?"

The County of San Mateo funds homeless services throughout the county through the Human Services Agency Center on Homelessness. Pacifica has access to those services through PRC. Above and beyond that, PRC offers homeless services based on the needs of our community. For example, we have a shower program and offer financial assistance for laundry services and dumping fees. As far as I know, PRC is the only Core Agency in the County that offers these services.

"What can we do about waste and trash services for the homeless?"

It would be wonderful to have either a dedicated dump site for waste and trash in town. In lieu of that, we will continue to education folks on where and how to dispose of their waste and trash based on what is available now, encouraging them to be good neighbors.

"Where will we have temporary shelters and safe parking?"

At this time, we have focused our efforts on local churches that can contribute space; however, any available space can be used, whether public or private.

"What can we do to help?"

Give to PRC financially, give inkind support (food, socks, toiletries, etc), give your time to assist with outreach, or give your influence to help garner support for a rotating shelter and/or safe parking site. All of this helps us do our work to help Pacificans become more stable and stay or become housed and gives us the ability to continue to advocate for more County and other resources to address homelessness in Pacifica.

Peter asked "Anita, how long have you been with PRC?"

I've been the director at PRC since January 2010, so just over 9 years. It's been a great 9 years and I'm looking forward to the next!

Peter Key also asked, "What's your background?"

I have a BA in Sociology from UC Berkeley and have personally used many of the services we offer at PRC. In addition to going to college and raising my son while on welfare (he was 5 when I graduated), I used food stamps, WIC, lived in subsidized housing (at the University Village in Albany), had a child care subsidy, received student financial aid (including student loans), and every and any resource available to help me raise my son and make ends meet. My son is now an adult and recently got married and moved to Texas, where he can afford to buy a house. I'm sad that he had to leave, but happy that he figured out what was best for him and his wife. And, Texas is supposed to have great BBQ!

While in school, I also helped institutionalize the Parent Resource Center, also coincidentally PRC :) , to help parents at Berkeley access resources to help them finish school. After graduating, I continued my work at Berkeley student housing and assisted with special projects, in particular their budget process and a domestic violence awareness project. From there, I worked at Legal Aid of the North Bay in San Rafael on a domestic violence project and oversaw their grant funding and reporting.

I didn't want to be a lawyer, so started looking at other work opportunities. I landed at LIFETIME (Low-Income Families Empowerment through Education) as Program Director for 10 years. While at LIFETIME, I helped low-income parents find resources and support to go to college; I educated low-income parents about local, state, and federal policies that impacted their ability to access education, as well as ways to change those policies; I advocated for state and federal policies that expanded education opportunities for parents receiving welfare, including the state and federal budget processes; I helped develop United Way of the Bay Area's Sparkpoint initiative (, including the launch of the first Sparkpoint Center in Oakland; I did a lot of grant writing and reporting; and, I helped LIFETIME get their 501c3 and move out of the founder's basement and into proper office space. I was also part of the LIFETIME team that won the Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World Award. LIFETIME, unfortunately, sunsetted about 5 years ago.

I also served on the board of directors of East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), an affordable housing organization in Oakland (, and helped start the California Family Resource Association (CFRA) as a board member ( I feel I have a good sense of what it takes to run an organization as staff and as a board member.

I am honored to be PRC's Executive Director, helping to support any Pacifican struggling to make ends meet.

Peter Key also asked, "how do you deal with and/or prevent burn out and/or heart break?"

I leave work at work. Well, I often work from/at home, but I leave the things I cannot control here. Reading, crocheting, growing vegetables, yoga (when I can find a convenient class), and supporting Don, my Cook For Hire significant other, start his business are great escapes for me that help me avoid burn out. And, I have great support from the PRC staff and board; I know I am not alone in our work.

Heartbreak is a little harder to accept. But, I try to recognize my limitations and work hard to find a win, even when there's a loss. For example, a few years ago, one of our homeless clients passed away and was found in a tent on the beach. Jimmy was a long time Pacifican who was on his way to getting housed. He should have been in shelter, but he wasn't and he died alone. It was heartbreaking, but it made me recognize that sometimes PRC's work is life or death; we need to advocate more and push our partners harder for the services we need in Pacifica.

Jimmy's death impacted all PRC staff as we had been working with him for years. Our Direct Services Manager Marina Castellanos got him a memorial plaque on our wall at PRC and it makes me smile to think he's still with us.

The losses are awful, but the wins keep us going. We all celebrate when we get a family into shelter or they stay housed; when we help a family save for the first time; when we hear about how the food we provide nourishes folks and helps avoid going to bed hungry; when we help someone get their lights turned back on after being without power or heat; or, when get a car seat for a newborn so s/he can get home safely. Knowing we make a difference, with support from our community, motivates us and helps us work through the heartbreak.