For Immediate ReleaseOctober 12, 2020
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.
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:
Benita McLarinDirectorHealth and Human Services
20 N. San Pedro RoadSan Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-3696Email: Benita McLarinMarin HHS website