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Posted on May 24, 2022


Getting to know the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin

St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin has been serving San Rafael since 1946. With a long history of collaboration, St. Vincent de Paul has successfully partnered with the community in their journey to end hunger, poverty, and homelessness in Marin.

Their free dining room at 820 B Street is open daily to feed the community’s most vulnerable children, families, seniors, individuals, and veterans. With the support of hundreds of volunteers and their resilient kitchen staff, they served more than 180,000 nutritious to-go meals in 2021 for their hungry neighbors—almost 500 meals every day.

The dedication to ending homelessness has allowed their Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) to collaborate with the County of Marin and other local service providers to successfully house almost 500 people experiencing chronic homelessness, with 122 individuals and families housed in 2021. Today, 94.83% of all people they have housed are still living in their homes.

The St. Vincent de Paul members are called “Vincentians” and volunteer to do the critical work of visiting at-risk seniors, low-income families, and people with disabilities who have trouble paying rent, utilities, and other bills. Last year, they initiated hundreds of home visits offering their vulnerable neighbors judgment-free listening, groceries, and additional financial assistance.

Another one of their critical resources, the Housing Help Desk, provides walk-up housing search assistance and immediate direct client aid. The help desk operates every Wednesday near the Free Dining Room. Help Desk staff will assist individuals and families in receiving support through several St. Vincent de Paul programs, including Rapid Rehousing programs, CalWORKs, and Coordinated Entry.

SSA Continues to Provide Services and Housing

The city of San Rafael continues to operate the Service Support Areas (SSA)for those experiencing homelessness and is seeing positive results. As part of a collaboration with Caltrans, the County of Marin, CHP, and multiple service organizations, this designated space provides security, restrooms, handwashing stations, garbage pick-up, regular outreach and service referrals, and other quality of life amenities. It also allows for the continuation of work with local partners to identify permanent paths to housing.

Currently, there are 21 individuals living within the Service Support Area. Twelve people have been issued vouchers, with 11 having already moved into housing. Three folks are in transitional housing, and four are in other types of residential programs. Individuals continue to be in a safe place where their Case Manager can work and assist in getting people moved into housing options. Our community partners continue to provide onsite services throughout the week. The SSA has continued success is demonstrated through the connections developed with unhoused folks-which allows for excellent case management services and creating a path towards housing, successfully moving people into housing and providing a safe environment to bring people off the streets, and very few calls for service to the police regarding the downtown area and throughout the City.

How can you help?

The best way to assist people experiencing homelessness in Marin is to donate or volunteer directly through social service agencies and community groups working with our community.

Please do not donate directly to the Service Support Area as the bulk of donations are discarded and contribute to the collection of debris at the site.

  • Homeward Bound Marin – In addition to being Marin’s primary emergency shelter provider, Homeward Bound also operates 353 units of supportive housing units, provides medical respite care, and provides job training opportunities.
  • St Vincent de Paul Marin – In Marin since 1946, St. Vincent’s does much more than just provide 200,000 warm meals every year at its Free Dining Room on B Street.
  • Downtown Streets Team – Downtown Streets Team is a work experience program that provides volunteer opportunities for men and women experiencing homelessness.
  • Ritter Center – The Ritter Center is Marin’s primary healthcare provider for people experiencing homelessness.
  • Adopt A Family Marin – Adopt A Family of Marin works to prevent homelessness and provide stability for Marin families in need.
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