County of Marin - News Releases - Behavioral Health Facility

For Immediate Release
January 12, 2021

New Partnership to Improve Mental Health Services

County facility in San Rafael to be converted into licensed treatment center

San Rafael, CA – A partnership between the County of Marin and the nonprofit Progress Foundation is leading to a new treatment facility in San Rafael for people with both serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders. It will be the first licensed treatment center of its kind in Marin.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors on January 12 approved a lease of a County-owned building at 920 Grand Avenue so it can be converted for a 16-bed adult transitional residential treatment program. The 5,720-square-foot building on the east side of San Rafael’s downtown area used to be the location of a public health laboratory and more recently has been office space for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) personnel.

The collaboration is expected to slow the escalating costs associated with those services by reducing the reliance on the current model of paying for beds in facilities owned by other agencies. But another benefit was an equal driver in the transaction. Local clients who need the residential treatment are being sent as far away as the Central Valley because of a lack of beds in Marin, and fewer of them will need to leave once the new facility is up and running in about 18-24 months following construction.

“We have a great opportunity to provide support and resources to clients who need treatment here in Marin and continue to have them part of the community where they are familiar with local resources,” said Dr. Jei Africa, Director of Marin HHS’ Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division. “When you send someone farther away, their families can’t visit them as often due to many economic reasons, for example. It will be less burdensome to the patient’s loved ones. Our staff will also be much more accessible to the patients and will be able to provide a more coordinate level of care. That could lead to a more successful transition back to the community.”

The County worked with consultants to confirm the feasibility of converting the building into a treatment center. The estimated total cost is $4.84 million, which the Board approved Tuesday. Nearly $4 million is available from prior-year funding in the Marin HHS Operations Fund that was set aside for this purpose. The rest of the money is coming from reserves. Under the new agreement, Progress Foundation will pay $13,320 per month over the 10-year lease.

The foundation, established in 1969 and based in San Francisco, operates 19 programs in the greater Bay Area to support psychiatric patients and help keep them from returning to institutions or correctional facilities.

“Progress Foundation has built a solid foundation of providing recovery-based psychiatric services in their long history,” Africa said. “Having another provider in Marin expands our network and offers more options to the families involved.”

The Marin County BHRS website provides more information on mental health resources in Marin, care for substance use service needs, tips for coping with the pandemic, prevention and early intervention services, needs assessments, crisis stabilization, and boards and committees that help influence positive changes to programs. The BHRS Access Line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer questions about services, arrange appointments, and make referrals. Dial the Access Line at (888) 818-1115.


Dr. Jei Africa
Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services
Department of Health and Human Services

20 North San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7595
CRS Dial 711
Email: Dr. Jei Africa
Marin HHS webpage