County of Marin - News Releases - Temporary Housing During COVID-19

For Immediate Release
October 12, 2020

Doors Stay Open for Homeless Amid Pandemic

County and partner organizations evolve during coronavirus to continue support

San Rafael, CA – After seven months of providing safe and temporary lodging to COVID-19-vulnerable people experiencing homelessness, the County of Marin and its nonprofit partners are working to provide services that more closely replicate traditional models while moving away from temporary motel-based housing.

Marin Health and Human Services logoMarin HHS is committed to protecting all people and working toward increasing local housing options.
The County provided temporary housing at three motels early in the pandemic to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for the more vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness. Rooms were offered to both single adults and families with children who were sleeping outside or in their vehicles. Motel residents were provided with hot daily meals, a safe place to sleep, connection to mental and physical health support and case management to connect them with permanent housing.

The motel-based housing programs were largely supported by Project Roomkey, a state-driven initiative to provide COVID-vulnerable homeless individuals with a safe place to temporarily reside and reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19. While the state has not indicated an exact end date for funding support, there is not long-term funding for the program.

“Marin has a strong track record of caring for this population,” said Benita McLarin, Director of Marin County’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “We’re very proud that we started thinking about long-term solutions at the beginning. We started planning an offramp six months ago because we knew we needed a longer-term plan to care for these individuals. Now we know more about the behavior of the virus and know we can still provide services and care for their well-being without relying on a motel environment.”

Homeward Bound of Marin and Catholic Charities, which assumed operations of the temporary housing operations from the County over the summer, are coordinating with the County and the local Coordinated Entry program to work with each remaining motel resident to transition them into another housing or shelter opportunity. The County anticipates the transition to be complete by the end of October.

During the pandemic, the County and its partners in Coordinated Entry have placed 34 families with children in permanent housing. Coordinated Entry has also placed 68 single adults in permanent supportive housing since the pandemic began. Many of those permanently housed were motel program residents.

While the state’s funding for the current motel program is expected to expire, Governor Gavin Newsom announced October 9 that Marin County will receive grant funding through Homekey, California’s $600 million program to acquire property – including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties – and create interim and permanent housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. As part of the County’s motel program transition plan, the County is in negotiations to purchase a property in Corte Madera, which could provide interim housing in the short term and transition to 18 units of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness as early as 2021.

“The Homekey award is another milestone in working toward increasing housing options and eliminating homelessness in Marin,” said Ashley McIntyre, Marin HHS Homelessness Policy Analyst. “We look forward to continued conversations and workshops with the Corte Madera community to discuss operations.”

“The goal of the motel program was to protect people and help them achieve stability,” McLarin said, “and I believe we’ve realized that with providing meals, COVID-19 testing, supportive services, care and compassion during the last seven or eight months of this program. We know that access to these resources will continue through our network of partners, and we are aiming to offer remaining motel participants a bed at another local shelter while each person works on a permanent housing solution.”

The County’s partners in Coordinated Entry include:

  • Adopt a Family of Marin
  • Bright Heart Health
  • Buckelew Programs
  • Canal Alliance
  • Catholic Charities
  • Center Point, Inc.
  • City of Novato
  • City of San Rafael
  • City of Sausalito
  • Coastal Health Alliance
  • Community Action Marin
  • Downtown Streets Team
  • Gilead House
  • Homeward Bound
  • Kaiser Permanente, San Rafael Medical Center
  • LifeLong Medical Care
  • Marin Center for Independent Living/Opportunity Village
  • Marin City Health and Wellness
  • Marin Community Clinics
  • Marin County Free Library
  • Marin Health (formerly Marin General Hospital)
  • Marin Health Gateway (health information exchange)
  • Marin Housing Authority
  • Marin Treatment Center
  • North Marin Community Services
  • Partnership HealthPlan of California  
  • Richardson Bay Regional Authority
  • Ritter Center
  • Swords to Ploughshares
  • St. Vincent de Paul Society
  • The Spahr Center
  • West Marin Community Services


Benita McLarin
Health and Human Services

20 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-3696
Email: Benita McLarin
Marin HHS website