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Homelessness

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Housing and Homeless Programs

Chris A. Hess
Assistant Director, Community Development

1400 Fifth Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901

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Homelessness in San Rafael

The City of San Rafael has been a leader in Marin County on addressing homelessness.  Between 2017 and 2019, San Rafael saw a 30% decline in unsheltered homelessness, and countywide there was a 28% decline in long-term, chronic homelessness. This page provides an overview of the various programs, partners, and strategies the City supports.

Supporting San Rafael's Unhoused Community

The City of San Rafael remains committed to protecting the health and safety of community members and employees, while also striving to deliver public services to the greatest extent possible. The City does not directly provide homeless services or programming, but we partner closely with the County of Marin and local service providers to ensure that people experiencing homelessness have access to the resources they need. For the latest updates on what's available in our community, please visit this page

If you've been sleeping on the streets or in your car for two weeks or longer, individuals please call the Coordinated Entry help line at 415-473-4663, and families please call Homeward Bound of Marin at 415-457-2115. Additionally, please note that the City of San Rafael has adopted a variety of renter protection policies to help prevent homelessness in the first place. You can learn more here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Individuals living in encampments are overwhelmingly long-term residents of the City of San Rafael. 

The City of San Rafael and its nonprofit partners serving homeless individuals recently conducted a survey in the City’s major encampments asking this question among others.  Almost 90% of individuals staying in the encampments have been in San Rafael for more than one year, and almost two-thirds have been in San Rafael for more than a decade.  Many individuals camping in the City grew up here, attended San Rafael schools, and hope to find permanent affordable housing in this community. 

According to the 2022 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, a bi-annual field study of local homelessness, 78% of all people currently experiencing homelessness across Marin report living in Marin prior to losing their housing. Across the nine Bay Area counties, 70-85% of people experiencing homelessness in a given county also lost their housing in that county. Homelessness is a local issue, impacting all communities due to the regional affordable housing crisis.  

Are most of Marin County’s homeless people in San Rafael? According to the 2022 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, 773 of the 1,121 people experiencing homelessness in Marin County (69%) were located OUTSIDE of San Rafael, compared to 348 (31%) staying inside San Rafael. 

The City provides updates by email in its homelessness e-newsletter, which you can sign up for on our Homelessness Department main page.

As of February 2024 – The City continues to work toward resolving the ongoing litigation regarding the City’s Ordinance 2030 – camping on public property. The City and the plaintiffs have been meeting regularly to discuss details related to the City’s implementation of its ordinance and other matters to resolve the case. While much of these discussions are confidential due to the ongoing case, the City can share that the discussions are productive and positive. 

The City of San Rafael remains committed to protecting the health and safety of community members and employees, while also striving to deliver public services to the greatest extent possible. The City does not directly provide homeless services or programming, but we partner closely with the County of Marin and local service providers to ensure that people experiencing homelessness have access to the resources they need.

Find information about our Community Partners.

For the latest updates on services available to our community through the County of Marin.

Approximately 350 San Rafael residents experience homelessness on any given night, and the City has made ending homelessness one of its key strategic goals and objectives.  Like all California communities of its size, San Rafael must apply its limited resources and leverage intergovernmental and community partnerships to create housing that supports our residents with the fewest options.  The City simultaneously addresses today’s challenge of homelessness on our streets, while supporting Marin County’s system of care in developing medium- and long-term support to end homelessness. 

Some of the City’s current initiatives of support include: 

SAFE team:  The City has contracted with Petaluma People Services Center to provide an mobile crisis response pilot called “SAFE” (Specialized Assistance For Everyone). The SAFE Team consists of an Emergency Medical Technician and a Crisis Intervention Specialist. Services provided by SAFE include responding to people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in need of treatment for mental illness, or who need shelter by providing counseling and transportation to the appropriately staffed location.  SAFE serves all San Rafael residents in crisis, and approximately 65% of its calls are for direct support of individuals experiencing homelessness. 

Housing-Based Case Management: In late fall of 2022, the City of San Rafael received a California State grant called the Encampment Resolution Fund. The city used this grant to contract with St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin for one housing case manager to provide service to 17 San Rafael residents formerly staying at the City’s Service Support Area program in 2021-22. As of March 2024, 12 of the 17 individuals have moved into permanent housing, and the other individuals are on a pathway to housing. 

The City and other jurisdictions have also collaborated to fund a High-Utilizer case management program, to serve individuals experiencing homelessness and frequently using emergency services.  This program provides case management through the Downtown Streets Team to 17 currently homeless San Rafael residents. 

Job readiness and case management: San Rafael’s Downtown Streets Team cleans up the downtown area and provides job opportunities and case management to approximately 20 individuals at any given time.  The City has provided funding to the Team since 2013, and recently expanded its services to encampment outreach/cleaning. 

Seeds of Hope event: The City of San Rafael co-hosts with the County of Marin Health and Human Services a quarterly lunch and service provider fair called Seeds of Hope. The sixth event was recently hosted in February 2024 and invites people experiencing homelessness to receive meals, donations, and housing-focused services. Attendance has increased every quarter and over 23 service providers assist attendees during the event. Individuals are invited to receive services such as free haircuts, acupuncture, and massage, to applications for public benefits and paperwork for housing programs.  

 

Since October of 2017, Marin County’s system of care (in which the City is one partner) has housed 707 of the most vulnerable people experiencing long-term homelessness in our community.  

San Rafael continues to be a countywide leader in the development of new housing options for people experiencing homelessness. This includes:  

  • City Council allocated $1.3M in Affordable Housing Trust Fund dollars to support the redevelopment of 3301 Kerner Boulevard, a former County office building, as permanent supportive housing.  The project received major support from Marin County and  through the State’s Project Homekey initiative, and will open in early 2025. (which will create 43 units of permanent supportive housing)  
  • The City used $1.1M in Affordable Housing Trust Fund dollars to help to create 32 units of permanent supportive housing at Jonathan’s Place, with project sponsor Homeward Bound of Marin.  The project opened in August 2022. 
  • The City received an Encampment Resolution Funding grant in funding round 1,to contract for housing case management to individuals in San Rafael encampments over two years. As of March 2024, 12 of the 17 individuals have moved into permanent housing, and the other individuals are on a pathway to housing.
  • The City used American Rescue Plan dollars to fund a high-utilizer case management program, to serve individuals experiencing homelessness and frequently using emergency services.  This program provides case management through the Downtown Streets Team to 17 currently homeless San Rafael residents. 

The most recent PointIn-Time Count (a bi-annual field study of local homelessness) was conducted in 2022, finding 1,121 total persons experiencing homelessness in Marin County. Of the total homeless count population, 74% were unsheltered and 26% were sheltered, either in emergency shelter or transitional housing units. The number of those experiencing unsheltered homelessness increased in all regions of the county except for West Marin.  The results of the January 2024 PIT count are expected to be released in the coming months. 

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.  

  • Homeward Bound MarinIn addition to being Marin’s primary emergency shelter provider, Homeward Bound also operates 353 units of supportive housing, provides medical respite care, and provides job training opportunities.  
  • St Vincent de Paul Society of MarinIn Marin since 1946, St. Vincent’s provides a free dining room that serves 200,000 warm meals every year, and provides housing assistance through its Housing Help Desk.  St. Vincent’s provides support in a crisis through its Housing Outreach Team, as well as ongoing case management.  
  • Downtown Streets TeamDowntown Streets Team is a work experience program that provides volunteer opportunities for men and women experiencing homelessness.  
  • Ritter CenterThe Ritter Center is Marin’s primary healthcare provider for people experiencing homelessness.  
  • Adopt A Family MarinAdopt A Family of Marin works to prevent homelessness and provide stability for Marin families in need.  
  • Community Action Marin –  The Community Alternative Response & Engagement (CARE) homeless outreach teams offer vital support and assistance to unhoused people throughout Marin County. Peer case managers build trust through wellness checks and providing basic needs items or transportation to medical centers. 

 

A case worker or case manager provides support and assistance to individuals or families. The services provided could include coaching, referrals to resources or agencies, assistance with scheduling appointments and providing transportation. Case management often begins with an assessment of a participant’s background and barriers to the resources they need, such as stable housing, income and benefits, life skills, medical and mental health services.  

What is a Housing Case Manager? 

A housing case manager works with participants that are either currently unhoused, require support to maintain stable housing, or at risk of losing their housing. The housing case manager uses skills and experience to connect and match participants to permanent housing that will be affordable and supportive to their needs. This often involves professional-level service coordination after assessment and enrollment into a housing program for the eligible individual or family. 

The Marin Homeless Continuum of Care (CoC) has launched a Coordinated Entry System (CES) to ensure that people experiencing homelessness receive the best services to meet their housing and/or service needs.

Our Coordinated Entry System is designed to serve individuals and families in Marin County who are experiencing homelessness including those who are: Unsheltered (e.g., living outside, in a car, on the streets, or in an encampment), Sheltered (e.g., in emergency shelter or transitional housing), or Fleeing Domestic Violence (persons fleeing DV are also encouraged to call Center for Domestic Peace Domestic Violence Hotline: 415.924.6616 (English) or 415.924.3456 (Spanish)

Contact the Marin Coordinated Entry Provider at CE@marincounty.org

Individuals: Call the Coordinated Entry Line at:

(415) 473-HOME (4663), Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Families: Call Homeward Bound of Marin at:

(415) 457-2115, Monday through Sunday,  9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Requests for ADA assistance may be made by calling (415) 473-4381, (415) 473-3232 (TTY),

or 711 for the California Relay Service or E-Mailing DisabilityAccess@MarinCounty.org

https://www.marinhousing.org/marin-county-homeless-coordinated-entry-system

Ending chronic homelessness in Marin


 

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