City Camping Ordinance Update
On July 17th, City Council adopted Ordinance 2030 to address unregulated encampments on public property by persons experiencing homelessness in the City. The ordinance would prohibit establishing any camping area within 200 ft. of another camping area. Each camping area would also be limited in size to 10 ft. by 10 ft. (100 sq. ft.) when it is occupied by one person and may be expanded to 10 ft. by 20 ft. (200 sq. ft.) for two or more persons camping together. The ordinance allows for two or more people to camp for those who feel safer camping together.
On August 11, 2023, several unhoused persons living in an encampment along the Mahon Creek Path filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California to challenge the legality of the ordinance. On August 16, 2023, Hon. Trina L. Thompson issued a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) prohibiting the City from enforcing its ordinance until the matter is presented at a preliminary injunction hearing in September. TROs are temporary measures taken by courts to keep the status quo until further judicial review can occur. TROs are frequently issued in court cases involving homeless encampments. The TRO does not mean that the City’s ordinance is unconstitutional or otherwise invalid.
These regulations on encampments are intended to protect those who are living unsheltered and the health of the community by reducing the unsanitary conditions and fire risks that come with large encampments.
City Council approves funding for three affordable housing projects
On July 17th, the City Council approved $1.45 million in Affordable Housing Trust Fund dollars for three affordable housing projects. Altogether, the three projects will result in the completion or rehabilitation and preservation of 169 deed-restricted affordable housing units.
Eden Housing was awarded $250,000 for the adaptive reuse of an office building at 3301 Kerner Blvd to create 40 units of supportive housing for homeless and formerly homeless individuals. This award is for redesign of the building structure based on its location in a floodplain.
Canal Alliance was awarded $200,000 for the renovation of four homes at 161 and 165 Novato St, including funding for temporary relocation of tenants. The apartments are reserved for households earning very low or low income and are currently occupied by families with school-age children and a senior.
BRIDGE Housing was awarded $1,000,000 for the rehabilitation of Terra Linda Manor and Northview, two adjacent properties built in the early 1960s in Terra Linda. In late 2022, BRIDGE Housing acquired these properties, preserving 125 units of unregulated affordable housing. The rents are now regulated, and the units are reserved for households earning low income.
City Awarded ERF Grant
San Rafael was awarded $250,000 in state of California grant funding, for a local nonprofit service provider to move individuals residing in encampments into housing. The City was one of 22 selected jurisdictions. The Encampment Resolution Funding (ERF) program was created in 2021 to support people living in encampments onto paths to safe and stable housing.
San Rafael will use the $250,000 it has been awarded on services to contract for case management to address the needs of the target population. The City currently contracts its prior ERF funding grant to St. Vincent de Paul Society, providing case management to individuals formerly utilizing its 2021-22 Support Service Area (SSA) project. 34 of 47 users of the SSA, and 13 of 17 currently in case management, have left homelessness and obtained permanent supportive housing.
SAFE (Specialized Assistance For Everyone) Team
The City of San Rafael has partnered with Petaluma People Services Center to start a mobile mental health crisis response team. This team, referred to as “SAFE” (Specialized Assistance For Everyone), went into service on March 29th, 2023. The SAFE team is modeled after the CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) program in Eugene and Springfield, OR. The SAFE Team consists of an Emergency Medical Technician and a Crisis Intervention Specialist. To access their services, the community can call 415-458-SAFE (7233).
Services provided by SAFE include responding to people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in need of treatment for mental illness, experiencing suicidal ideation, or who need shelter by providing counseling and transportation to the appropriately staffed location. The team will also address minor medical issues that do not require emergency room care. Left untreated, some of these medical conditions can become severe. The SAFE Team is also supported by a SAFE Team Navigator, who supports individuals after crisis intervention and manages referrals to social and mental health programs in Marin County. The SAFE Team operates twelve hours per day (8 a.m. – 8 p.m.), seven days a week, 365 days per year, under a three-year pilot.
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.
- 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.