County of Marin - News Releases - Analysis of Homelessness

For Immediate Release
November 09, 2022

Report Improves Understanding of Homelessness in Marin

Point in Time full report released

San Rafael, CA – Evidence is mounting that Marin County’s challenges with homelessness are directly tied to the lack of affordable housing and that most people experiencing homelessness in Marin lived here before they lost housing.

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has analyzed the most recent Point in Time Count figures and concluded that total homelessness in Marin – unsheltered plus temporarily sheltered – grew by 8.5% in 2022 compared with the most recent count in 2019. Marin, one of the nation’s most expensive counties based on real estate and rental property statistics, had 1,121 people without a steady and reliable location to call home on February 17, the day teams fanned out to gather data. Although the total is up from 1,034 two years earlier, the 8.5% increase is lower than the statewide increase of 13.5% over the same period.

A man in a bathrobe and face covering holds a small dog while sitting on a motel bed.There are positive signs that the Housing First efforts to help those most in need are working in Marin County.

The Point in Time Count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) every two years for every U.S. community that receives federal homelessness funding. The Point in Time Count on February 17 was followed by an in-depth, representative survey that is used to profile and estimate key characteristics of Marin’s unhoused population. The results are used to understand local needs and track progress toward the goal of ending homelessness.

One key finding this year was that 78% of people experiencing homelessness locally were Marin residents prior to losing housing, up from a previous 73% in 2019. It’s noteworthy that the fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Marin is $2,631 and the maximum Supplemental Security Income payment for a disabled individual is $1,040. To afford a one-bedroom apartment in Marin, household members need to earn approximately $95,000 per year.

“While we’re disappointed with the increased numbers despite all our efforts, we’re not surprised,” said Board of Supervisors President Katie Rice. “Rising rents, a slow climb out of the pandemic, and growing demand for housing without adding to the supply combine to price people out of housing and into homelessness. We must do more to protect existing affordable housing in addition to creating more or our numbers will keep rising.”

The COVID-19 pandemic added more challenges to implementing homelessness solutions. Despite eviction moratoriums, which only protected people with a lease, 14% of those surveyed during the 2022 Point in Time Count said they had lost housing because of the worldwide health emergency.

More facts from Point in Time Count analysis include:

  • People experiencing homelessness most often need rental assistance (77%) and/or more affordable housing (61%) to get housed on their own.
  • 31% reported experiencing homelessness despite being employed.
  • People experiencing homelessness are most likely to be living in vehicles (41%) or emergency shelters or transitional housing (combined 26%), reinforcing that homelessness is not confined to what residents see on streets or encampments.
  • The Black/African American population, which is 2.4% of Marin’s population, is severely overrepresented among people experiencing homelessness, and this inequity is increasing (22% in 2022 from 17% in 2019).

All but two of Marin’s municipalities had unhoused individuals observed during the Point in Time Count. Increases since the last count were observed in Fairfax, San Rafael, Mill Valley, and Sausalito due to an increase in visible encampments, those living in vehicles, and individuals seeking to access needed services during the pandemic.

“Since 2017 and with renewed intensity through the pandemic, Marin HHS and its partners at local nonprofit agencies and nearby jurisdictions have collaborated to place the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness in stable supportive housing, changing over 500 lives in the process,” said Gary Naja-Riese, Director of Marin HHS’ Homelessness and Whole Person Care Division. As of October 31, the number was 550, and 95% of those people are still housed.

The County was recently awarded $2 million in state surplus funding through the efforts of State Senator Mike McGuire to support local efforts in Sausalito, San Rafael, Novato, and unincorporated Marin. The County has committed to matching $500,000 for a total of $1 million to each of the three cities to implement strategies that are in alignment with Housing First approaches.

This high housing retention rate supports Marin’s Housing First approach to ensure people have a safe place to live to address their needs.

Marin HHS’ Carrie Sager, who oversees the County’s Coordinated Entry system, said those reporting homelessness of one year or more dropped significantly (70% to 61%). “That’s another positive sign and demonstrates that the Housing First efforts to help those most in need are working,” she said.

Sager added that through the efforts of the Continuum of Care, the County has accelerated by 56% the rate at which individuals with long periods of homelessness are being housed in supportive housing since the pandemic began, with an average of 11 clients finding a home each month.

Marin continues to invest in proven housing-focused solutions to homelessness, including over 100 new beds of housing through Project Homekey and housing-based case management paired with vouchers to create new supportive housing.


Gary Naja-Riese
Director, Division of Homelessness and Whole Person Care
Department of Health and Human Services

1777 E. Francisco Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6265
Email: Gary Naja-Riese
Marin HHS website