San Rafael, CA — With formal acceptance of a $15,497,200 state grant at its February 15 meeting, the Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed a partnership between the County of Marin and Episcopal Community Services (ECS) on a development project at 1251 South Eliseo Drive in Larkspur. The funds will support the acquisition, rehabilitation, and operation of the property, which has been shuttered for seven years.
Up to 50 Marin County residents experiencing chronic homelessness will be provided homes starting in early 2023 after the renovation of the former skilled nursing facility. ECS will serve as the owner and manager of the property.
As part of a statewide initiative to reduce homelessness, the County was awarded State of California funding to revitalize an underutilized parcel and serve vulnerable Marin residents experiencing homelessness through evidence-based interventions. The Board action February 15 was to formally accept the grant and confirm the County’s commitment of match funding. After committing to the Housing First strategy in 2016, the County has more than doubled its supply of permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.
Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice, whose district includes the City of Larkspur, said she believes the transformation of the boarded-up South Eliseo property can be done well in partnership with stakeholders and neighbors.
“Tackling homelessness and housing the unsheltered in Marin County is not a one-project issue, a one-district issue, or a one-Supervisor issue,” she said. “It’s something we’re all committed to, hence the progress we’ve made to date and getting behind this important project and ensuring it is a success. It will be one more large step forward in terms of taking care of those who are most vulnerable living unsheltered in our communities right now. I look forward to the work ahead.”
Over the past few months, the County and ECS have conducted community outreach to neighbors in Larkspur and Greenbrae and held community meetings with stakeholders to answer questions about the South Eliseo project. A community advisory group has been formed to work directly with Board President Rice, key stakeholders, and local residents on project development and actions to address community concerns. Group members include seven residents from the immediate neighborhood, ECS and County staff, and members from the Larkspur City Council, Kentfield School District Board of Trustees, Kentfield Schools’ Safe Routes to Schools, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Central Marin Police Authority. Board President Rice requested the group be expanded to include two more Larkspur residents appointed by the City Council and two Kentfield community members to ensure broad representation on the committee.
County Administrator Matthew Hymel said, as the Board members did as well, that the community advisory group will help the County build trust in the project.
“We will be making sure that when we create our operating agreement that it has accountability built into it as well as financial accountability,” Hymel said. “I honestly believe the residents will be more safe when folks are housed with supportive services and 24-hour staffing.”
With the state funds accepted, ECS will close escrow on the property in April, begin construction soon thereafter, and residents will begin to move in, in early 2023.
The County of Marin received approximately $9.2 million in 2020 to aid the purchase of 62 new units of supportive housing in San Rafael and Corte Madera, but the Board and County staff knew that much more needed to be done. In early 2021, the state announced a second round of Homekey funding worth $1.4 billion. The Board reiterated its determination to create more permanent supportive housing when it increased General Fund spending by $800,000 in the 2021-22 budget last June. The move raised the local ongoing budget to help alleviate homelessness to $7 million.
The County submitted the proposal for the South Eliseo site in November 2021, and two months later added homelessness to its list of top County priorities after it received an update about the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and state commitments for Project Homekey.
Learn more on the County of Marin website about the property or Project Homekey or email Marin HHS staff. Additional information about the project, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions, can be found at www.1251seliseo.com. The site also allows anyone interested to sign up for regular project updates.