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A Home of Their Own: Tackling Homelessness in Marin

EVERY TWO YEARS at the end of January, volunteers go out into the streets early in the morning to tally the homeless in their community. This event is known as the Point-in-Time Count, and for the Bay Area overall, the 2019 results were not encouraging — San Mateo, San Francisco and Alameda counties all saw their homeless populations swell by double- digit figures, Alameda’s by an alarming 43 percent. The story in Marin was different, however. While the overall number dropped by less than 100 people, from 1,117 to 1,034 in 2019, the chronically homeless population decreased by 23 percent.

This wasn’t a lucky accident. In recent years multiple agencies around the county have shifted their approach to this pressing issue. “The problem as a whole feels impossible, but when you look at one person at a time, it becomes more doable — and we’ve housed 165 chronically homeless people in the past two years by viewing it this way,” says Christine Paquette, executive director at St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin County.

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