Santamaria Donates County Salary To Homeless Coalition

County Commissioner Jess Santamaria plans to donate his commissioner’s salary for the year to the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County. The $100,000 will go toward implementing the coalition’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

The donation is part of Santamaria’s goal to “pay it forward.”

While he now owns shopping centers and a hotel, Santamaria was not born into a life of privilege. He experienced a difficult childhood in the Philippines. His father died when he was three, leaving his mother to raise six children alone. The family became homeless after their house and much of the city of Manila was devastated during World War II. “I know what it is like to be hungry for days at a time,” Santamaria said.

Santamaria said his mother’s tenacity and self-sacrifice enabled her to send him to school. He credits his mother’s example and a strong Christian education for his work ethic and desire to care for the disadvantaged.

“It’s who I am. If I had a dollar, I would be ready to share 50 cents,” said Santamaria, who with his wife, Victoria, have passed on these family values to their three children.

The Santamaria family is now the title sponsor of the upcoming Mayor’s Ball. The March 8 gala at the Palm Beach County Convention Center will benefit the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County.

“While the ball is a black-tie event, it will also educate attendees about the growing issue of homelessness and ways people can make a difference,” said Marilyn Munoz, executive director for the Homeless Coalition.

According to the 2013 Point-in-Time Count, there are more than 2,500 homeless people on any given day in Palm Beach County. The numbers are even higher when you add people who are temporarily living with other families.

“Homeless mothers with children and families call us or walk through the doors of the Sen. Philip D. Lewis Center every day,” Munoz said. “Commissioner Santamaria’s donation will make sure we can give them hope about their futures.”

The donation shows Santamaria’s continued support of the homeless. He has gifted his salary to the Lord’s Place in the past. Santamaria and his family have also created a charitable trust called My Brother’s/Sister’s Keeper. The organization helps the poor and needy in the western communities.

“The strong and the fortunate have an obligation to assist the weak and less fortunate until they are able to help themselves,” Santamaria explained.

For more information about the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County, visit


ABOVE: Commissioner Jess Santamaria with his family. The Santamaria family will be the title sponsor of the upcoming Mayor’s Ball.


  1. Happiness would be Commissioner Santamaria running for mayor of WPB in 2015. He would give the citizens a fighting chance against the city commissioners who ignore the residents and their needs. After Frankel and Muoio, both cut from the same cloth, I would love a STRONG male mayor.

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