SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — The number of homeless people forced to live in their vehicles in Marin County has nearly doubled since 2019, according health department report.

Marin typically does an extensive homeless count in January of odd-numbered years. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the county officials delayed the 2021 count until 2022 and just did a vehicle count this year.

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“We know that people in Marin are concerned about the number of unhoused people they’re seeing; we are also concerned about an increase in homelessness from a pandemic that has disproportionately affected those with the fewest resources,” said Carrie Sager, Homelessness Programs Coordinator for Marin County Department of Health and Human
Services.

Outreach teams and police patrols conducted a visual, no-contact count on one night using a process that kept vehicles from being double counted.

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The count found 486 people living in 381 vehicles, a 91% increase over 2019.

“The increase in people living in vehicles is sobering,” said Ashley Hart McIntyre, HHS Homelessness Policy Analyst. “This number would be even higher without the actions we’ve taken to prevent homelessness, like the eviction moratorium and rental assistance program.”

Officials said the count’s findings emphasized their focus on Marin County’s Housing First program. Marin’s homeless system of care has housed 320 people in permanent supportive housing since October 2017, and the rate of housing placements has increased by 46% since the start of the pandemic.

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In 2019, Marin was one of only three Bay Area counties to record a decrease in homelessness, including a 28% decrease among those who had been homeless for more than a year and had a disabling condition.