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Homelessness Update: Service Support Area Creates Meaningful Movement For a Path to Housing

Posted on September 8, 2021

An Individual residing in the SSA receives their Emergency Housing Voucher

The city of San Rafael continues to see positive results with the establishment of the Service Support Areas (SSA) for those experiencing homelessness. As part of the collaboration with Caltrans, the County of Marin, CHP, and multiple service  organizations, the SSA is an out-of-the box approach to create strong support for our most vulnerable community members. This designated space provides 24×7 security, restrooms, handwashing stations, garbage pick-up, regular outreach and service referrals, and other quality of life amenities. It also allows for the continuing of work with local partners to identify permanent paths to housing.   

Currently, 49 individuals reside within the Service Support Area. There is a 10-person waitlist, and three Emergency House Vouchers were delivered last week. Individuals continue to be in a safe place where their case manager can efficiently work with them to access the services they need and guide them through the housing process. We have seen people experiencing homelessness move to the Project Roomkey hotel rooms, to the Homeward Bound run emergency shelter which will ultimately be 44 new permanent supportive housing units, and we have seen people at the Service Support Area move through the voucher process as well.  

One of the more emotional events that occurred just last week was when the City’s Mental Health Liaison, Lynn Murphy, presented three individuals with Emergency Housing Vouchers. Each person was elated with joy and tearful (including the person in the above photo). 

Our community partners continue to provide onsite services throughout the week. These services include: site clean-up, mobile showers, medical services, vaccination clinics, case management, and veterinary support.  

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. 

Non-SSA Related Activity 

The City’s Open Space Rangers 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 not only the individuals but the safety of the community. 

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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