What is San Rafael doing to support the homeless population?

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.  

Close window