County of Marin - News Releases - Shelter Partnership

For Immediate Release
November 19, 2018

County, Homeward Bound Partner on Shelter Needs

Support for people experiencing homelessness to increase existing capacity

San Rafael, CAThe Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Novato-based nonprofit Homeward Bound of Marin have established emergency shelter surge capacity to supplement 190 year-round shelter beds during severe weather events. 

A view of the Marin Health and Wellness Center, with the sign in the foreground and building in the background.Under a new partnership, the County's Health and Wellness Center would be the site of an emergency shelter during severe weather events.

In the case of a severe weather event, the new partnership will provide food and shelter for up to 80 individuals at the Marin County Health and Wellness Campus at 3240 Kerner Boulevard in San Rafael. Homeward Bound employees will staff the center when utilized.

Based on similar protocols from other California communities and past practice in Marin, a severe weather event is defined as:

  • when temperatures drop below an average nighttime low of 38 degrees;
  • when conditions are projected for a minimum of three days; and
  • ·other conditions exist, including significant rainfall (e.g., an inch of driving rain), severe wind chills or extreme temperature fluctuations.

Previously, the County government worked with houses of worship and nonprofits to provide a program called the Rotating Emergency Shelter Team (REST) between November and April. Since last winter, the County and its partners have created a coordinated entry system to streamline entry into permanent housing and have adopted a Housing First initiative to prioritize permanent placement of people experiencing chronic homelessness. The County’s new Whole Person Care Division has partnered with the Marin Housing Authority to bring 73 new permanent supportive housing vouchers online.

HHS Whole Person Care Director Ken Shapiro said 70 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in Marin have been connected to permanent housing in the 12 months since the launch of coordinated entry in Marin. Thirty-eight individuals of the initial 70 are former participants in REST.

“All the partners in the Marin County homeless system of care are focused on ending chronic homelessness,” Shapiro said. “The most humane response to the crisis of homelessness is housing." 

Severe weather declarations will be made by the County Public Health Officer, Dr. Matt Willis. As in past years, alternative arrangements will be made on-demand for unsheltered families.

“Partners in the county are working more closely together than ever before, assuring that an appropriate and timely response is well coordinated and effective,” Homeward Bound Executive Director Mary Kay Sweeney said.

For more information on the ongoing collaborative work and initiatives to address chronic homelessness, visit


Ken Shapiro
Chief Assistant Director
Health and Human Services

20 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6873
Email: Ken Shapiro
Marin HHS website