County Commissioner Jess Santamaria donates his entire salary to help the homeless

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - "We saw almost six thousand people come through the Lewis Center when it opened last year, and 2200 of those were families," said Pamela Goodman with the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County.

The number of families who don't have a place to call home is going up.

"The increase in median housing is increasing by about 27 percent just this last year. the housing prices are getting higher. And unfortunately our unemployment is staying the same or actually getting a bit higher, " said Goodman.

Because of a generous donation from a county commissioner, the Homeless Coalition will be able to help families in similar situations who are struggling with homelessness.

Commissioner Jess Santamaria said, "My statement has always been the strong and the fortunate have an obligation."

He is donating 100 thousand dollars to the Coalition. His salary of 92 thousand plus an additional eight thousand dollars. The money could help 20 families.

"You might say I am addicted to sharing whatever I have," said Santamaria.

 But for him, it's a personal cause. He grew up poor in the Philippines after his father died.

"We were homeless for a little bit and hungry. I know hunger, I know what it is like not to eat for days. I know what it's like not to have water for days," he said. 

The chemical engineer and real estate developer says it's important for his family to pay it forward.

 

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