Marin could pool up to $ 2 million for homeless initiative
With more than 100 new dedicated homeless housing vouchers arriving in Marin as part of President Biden’s housing plan, city and county leaders are proposing to pool around $ 2 million to hire managers cases to help get people off the streets, and quickly.
Marin’s two largest towns have supported the county’s effort. San Rafael and Novato city councils voted unanimously last week to contribute $ 260,000 and $ 240,000 respectively.
During its budget hearings scheduled for June 21-23, the Marin County Oversight Board will also consider adding $ 1.2 million to the prize pool, said Matthew Hymel, county administrator.
Local jurisdictions are using an influx of federal aid from the American Rescue Plan to pay the contributions. Marin County receives $ 50 million, while San Rafael receives a total of $ 16 million and Novato receives approximately $ 9 million.
The proposal comes as Marin grapples with a wave of new homeless settlements, including the overpass under the Highway 101 overpass in San Rafael, Lee Gerner Park in Novato, and Dunphy Park in Sausalito.
“It really is an opportunity to house the most chronically homeless,” said Hymel.
The expected contribution from the county along with the allocations from San Rafael and Novato represent 60% of the proposed funds. The other towns and villages represent the remaining 40%; their contributions are calculated on the basis of the population.
Councils in each remaining town and village should consider attending meetings in July and August, according to municipal directors in each community.
Hymel said the county’s homeless awareness planners would begin as early as July with the funds available.
The overall goal is to hire up to eight case managers. Each case manager can serve 17 clients, which means that, if there are enough funds, up to 136 homeless people could benefit from the program at a time.
“We have at least 600 homeless-only service calls in our PD in the past 12 months, 50% of which are in our largest encampment (Lee Gerner Park),” said Novato City Manager Adam McGill , at the board meeting on Tuesday. “Under this formula, we think we would have a direct impact on those in this camp. “
Andrew Hening, the outgoing director of homeless outreach in San Rafael, said more of the chronically homeless population turned to the settlements for various reasons during the pandemic.
The Downtown Streets Team Outreach Group and Lynn Murphy, San Rafael Police Department Mental Health Liaison Officer, were able to build more and better relationships with these people.
“I think having people in one place can really speed up the ability to get permanent housing,” he said at the San Rafael city council meeting on Monday.
The plan to hire case managers is part of San Rafael’s phased approach to tackling homelessness, a plan that was approved by the board on Monday.
The first phase is to take advantage of the rooms made available by Project Roomkey, a state initiative that aims to provide isolated accommodation beds to the homeless during the pandemic, and Project Homekey, which aims to lead to housing. permanent. This work is happening immediately, Hening said.
The plan also includes case management work, as well as the launch of a “safe camping area” pilot, which could start this summer, Hening said.
It would be a site with tents or other shelter for the homeless to sleep and keep their belongings. Having these people in need in one place could make it easier for service providers to find their clients, Hening said.
“If we could continue with this case management, we want to be able to make sure that we are able to continue to work with people in a constructive and positive way and so that could be one way to do it,” he said. .
Several residents expressed support for the project, while others opposed the ideas.
Brad Gaffney objected to the city’s partnership with the Downtown Streets Team, citing allegations of sexual harassment against the organization’s chief executive, Eileen Richardson, who founded the nonprofit in 2005.
The board on Monday approved a two-year contract extension with the nonprofit for $ 200,000.
Pat Langley, a member of the activist group on Marin’s organizing committee, said the homeless need more help.
“It’s a blessing,” she said of the plan. “But without a sufficient number of case managers to ensure rental units are located and people are moved to their new homes, we wouldn’t be able to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Hening, whose part-time contract with the city ends June 30, remains in Marin to continue working with Opening Doors Marin as an independent consultant on homeless initiatives across the county. He was a full-time municipal employee from 2016 to May 2020. His last salary was $ 10,952 per month. He has worked part time since June 2020 and earns $ 150 an hour.