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Homelessness and Housing: Service Support Area Update

Posted on October 13, 2021


Service Support Area Sign

The City of San Rafael continues to operate the Service Support Areas (SSA) for those experiencing homelessness and continues to see positive results. As part of the collaboration with Caltrans, the County of Marin, CHP, and multiple service organizations, this designated space located between Fifth and Mission in downtown San Rafael provides:

  • Full time security
  • Restrooms
  • Handwashing stations
  • Garbage pick-up
  • Regular outreach
  • Service referrals
  • Other quality of life amenities

The Service Support Area also allows for the continuing of work with local partners to identify permanent paths to housing.

Currently, there are 42 individuals living within the Service Support Area and 15 that have been assigned a case manager since the program started in July. Many more will receive a case manager thanks to a San Rafael City Council action to increase case management support by $260,000. This month, residents of the Service Support Area received three Emergency Housing Vouchers, including one who is moving into housing this week! Individuals continue to be in a safe place where their social worker can work with them. The Service Support Area is already getting people moved into housing options while community partners provide onsite services throughout the week. The program continues to showcase its success through a reduction of police calls for service throughout the City and an increase in interest among potential residents applying to join the Service Support Area (there is currently a 16-person waitlist).

Last week, German radio station, ARD, did an extensive piece on the success of the SSA in the United States and broadcast the story in Germany. The ARD team conducted multiple interviews with residents along with our very own Lynn Murphy. We hope to have clips from this story soon.

To note, the SSA is a temporary site and a temporary solution, and the City will continue to work closely with the County of Marin, and community partners, to get occupants into permanent supportive housing.

Coordinated Entry Program

The City is also proud of its ongoing partnership on the Coordinated Entry Program in Marin County. Through this partnership, we have recently housed the 400th person who was experiencing long-term, chronic homelessness in the community. Not only that, over the last four years the partnership has reduced veteran homelessness in Marin County by over 60%. We are thankful to the partners who have made this program a success, partners include:

  • Marin Housing Authority
  • Homeward Bound of Marin
  • Vincent de Paul Society of Marin
  • Ritter Center
  • Downtown Streets Team
  • Buckelew
  • North Marin Community Services
  • Marin Community Clinics
  • Community Action Marin
  • Catholic Charities

Non-SSA Related Activity

The City’s Open Space Rangers also continue patrols in the parks and open space of San Rafael to prevent activities that would increase the risk of wildfire.  While doing so, they conduct outreach to those experiencing homelessness in the open space to guide them to available services.  These support operations have had an immense impact on the individuals that are experiencing homelessness.

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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