County of Marin logoThe County of Marin has been awarded $15,497,200 in State of California funding to support the creation of 43-50 permanent supportive homes for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The funds will support the acquisition, rehabilitation, and operation of a former skilled nursing facility at 1251 South Eliseo Drive in Larkspur.

The site will be owned and operated by Episcopal Community Services (ECS), in partnership with the County of Marin. The property represents an opportunity to revitalize an underutilized parcel and serve vulnerable Marin residents experiencing homelessness through evidence-based interventions.

A hearing of the Board of Supervisors will be held on Tuesday, February 15, to formally accept the grant and confirm the County’s commitment of match funding. The meeting begins at 9 a.m., and the topic is first on the agenda. Participants may log in to the videoconference or visit the Marin County Civic Center Board chamber (Suite 330), however public health restrictions on large gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic remain in place. Attendance in the chamber is limited to 100 people. The full agenda and information on how to access the meeting can be found on the meeting archive.

The Office of Governor Gavin Newsom posted news of the funding allotment on February 10.

A project like this is an incredible opportunity to bring the most vulnerable into housing and provide the services they need to regain their health and well-being,”  said Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice, whose District includes the City of Larkspur and surrounding communities of Kentfield and Greenbrae. “Working with our partners and the community as we move forward,  I am confident that 1251 South Eliseo will be a successful project for all concerned.” 

In 2020, the State of California launched an innovative new housing program called Project Homekey to protect Californians experiencing homelessness who are at high risk for serious illness and are impacted by COVID-19. To date, Homekey has resulted in 6,029 new units of permanent housing statewide and has housed over 8,200 people. In Marin, the County received approximately $9.2 million in 2020 to aid the purchase of 62 new units of supportive housing in San Rafael and Corte Madera.

In early 2021, the State announced a second round of Homekey funding, through which a total of $1.4 billion would be made available to support Homekey projects throughout the State. In November, the County of Marin submitted the proposal for the South Eliseo site. On February 9, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) informed the County of Marin that the site was selected for funding. As funds are being awarded on a rolling basis, HCD has not yet closed the competition or announced the complete list of awarded projects.

The facility at 1251 South Eliseo will be operated by ECS as a 43-50-unit building for single adults experiencing chronic homelessness. Permanent supportive housing, an evidence-based housing intervention that combines affordable housing solutions with wraparound support services, is a proven solution to chronic homelessness. These support services, including case management and mental health, educational, and vocational services, help residents achieve housing stability and improve health outcomes.

“We are proud to partner with the County to provide a meaningful housing opportunity for those burdened by homelessness in Marin,” said Beth Stokes, Executive Director of ECS. “We look forward to welcoming new residents to the site and working with the community to make this project successful.”

In July 2021, the County of Marin selected ECS to be its development sponsor for the Project Homekey 2.0 initiative. ECS has provided essential services to homeless San Franciscans since 1983, utilizing a holistic approach that addresses the complex causes leading to homelessness. Last year, they served more than 13,000 people, guided by their mission to help homeless and very low-income people every day and every night obtain the housing, jobs, shelter, and essential services each person needs to prevent and end homelessness. Today it is responsible for operating over 1,700 housing units, with over 98% of its residents retaining housing year over year. A cornerstone of ECS’ success has been its ability to establish authentic relationships in the communities it serves.

“This program will address a critical need for safe, stable, permanent housing in Marin, and it’s a wonderful addition to the work that we have been doing together to address homelessness and create a place for people to belong to the community,” said Mary Kay Sweeney, the Executive Director of Homeward Bound of Marin County. “We are delighted that it was awarded and look forward to seeing residents move in.”

Since selecting the South Eliseo site, the County and ECS have conducted community outreach to neighbors and other community stakeholders. This includes three community meetings, a school-focused meeting, and several meetings with other stakeholders, including Kentfield School District, Safe Routes to School, Tam Union High School District, Marin Catholic, College of Marin, MarinHealth, Central Marin Police, County of Marin Sheriff, Marin Community Clinics, the California Highway Patrol, Kentfield Fire, and Central Marin Fire.

A Community Advisory Group has recently been formed, which includes seven residents from the immediate neighborhood; two representatives from the Larkspur City Council (Scot Candell and Catherine Way); Supervisor Katie Rice; County staff; ECS staff; representatives from Kentfield School District Board of Trustees, Safe Routes, and Central Marin Police. At least one individual with lived experience of homelessness will be added.