Flex Alert issued through Friday, June 18 at 9 p.m. | Learn  about facility hours and city services during COVID-19

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Lynn Murphy
Mental Health Resource Liaison

1400 Fifth Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901

COVID-19 Service Modifications

During the current public health crisis, 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

Additionaly, for any household that is looking for resources to prevent becoming homeless, the Marin County Rental Assistance online application is open. If you already received rental assistance from their program you will need to re-apply. Low-income Marin County residents can apply to receive 80% of unpaid back rent due between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Information on income limits can be found on their Tenants: Frequently Asked Questions handout, and more information is available here. For any questions, please email RentalAssistance@MarinCounty.org or call (415) 473-2223.

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.

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.

For answers to some of the most common questions we receive about homelessness, please click on the drop-down menus below.

From 2017 to 2019, 80% of counties in California witnessed increased in homelessness. However, Marin was not one of them. Over that same period of time, Marin County had a 7% overall decrease, a 28% decrease in chronic homelessness, and San Rafael saw a 30% decrease in unsheltered homelessness.

Work remains, but our strategy is getting measurable results.

People become homeless for a wide variety of reasons, yet every person experiencing homelessness has one thing in common: they lack housing. Despite this somewhat obvious fact, providing housing is sometimes the last issue communities prioritize.  Instead, people experiencing homelessness often hear, “We can provide housing for you, but …

  • You need to get sober first.”
  • You need to get a job first.”
  • You need to take medication first.”
  • You need to progress through x, y and z programs first.”

Housing First turns this strategy on its head. People are placed directly into housing as the first intervention, and then social workers help people address all of the other issues that might have led to that person’s homelessness in the first place.

Between October of 2017 and the spring of 2020, our community housed close to 200 chronically homeless people through Housing First.

For the vast majority of people who become homeless, it is a brief, one-time experience that usually resolves itself in a matter of weeks or month. However, for approximately 1/4 of the people experiencing homelessness in Marin County are chronically homeless. Chronic homelessness is long-term homelessness that accompanied by a disability (e.g. mental illness, physical disability, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder).



Most people experiencing homelessness in Marin cite an economic reason for their homelessness. However, for the minority of people experiencing chronic homelessness, over 70% report experiencing some type of emotional or psychiatric challenge. Sadly, the mental health system in this country has been severely eroded over the last few decades and new laws make it harder to provider services for people who are extremely sick and refuse help.

According to the 2019 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, 73% of people currently experiencing homelessness in 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.

According to the 2019 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, over 70% of people experiencing in Marin County were located OUTSIDE of San Rafael.

In January of every odd year, the federal government requires communities across the country to conduct “point-in-time” counts of every person experiencing homelessness. On January 28, 2019, there were 1,034 people experiencing homelessness in Marin, down from 1,117 in 2017 and 1,309 in 2015. You can view the executive summary or the full report.

Ending chronic homelessness in Marin

Community Partners

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. St. Vincent’s provides homelessness prevention services to over 1,000 households a year, manages the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) to address chronic homelessness, and hosts Community Court – a court diversion program.

In addition to being Marin’s primary emergency shelter provider, Homeward Bound also operates 353 units of supportive housing units, provides medical respite care saving the community $2.5M a year in medical costs, and provides job training opportunities through its Fresh Starts Culinary Academy and Wagster social enterprise.

Downtown Streets Team is a work experience program that provides volunteer opportunities for men and women experiencing homelessness. The San Rafael team has provided over 60,000 hours of beautification and cleanup services and helped almost 100 people regain employment. DST has also taken over management of the Marin Mobile Care mobile shower program.

The Ritter Center is Marin’s primary healthcare provider for people experiencing homelessness. Serving approximately 1,500 unhoused people at their clinic in Downtown San Rafael, Ritter specializes in providing wraparound medical, psychiatric, case management, and behavior health support to Marin’s most vulnerable.

Adopt A Family of Marin works to prevent homelessness and provide stability for Marin families in need. We provide financial assistance for rent, security deposits, utility payments, food vouchers and auto repair.

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