U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development

Consolidated Plan Contact


Marin County is an affluent suburb, which in comparison with other California counties, Marin's population has higher incomes, a higher percentage of college graduates, a higher percentage of people in professional and managerial occupations, higher priced homes, and a lower unemployment rate. The county is dependent on the rest of the bay area economy and its highest paid workers earn wages outside of the county and lower-paid workers (41%) come from outside of the county. Marin's economic strengths are its location, high quality lifestyle, highest propostion of white-collar home-based businesses in the bay area, base of emerging technologies e.g. software, entertainment, biotech/pharmaceudicals, and established agriculture industry.

Action Plan

The Marin County Consolidated Plan presents a strategic vision for housing and community development. It includes a One-Year Action Plan for spending approximately $2,902,000 in CDBG, and HOME funds and an estimated $525,000 in program income. These funds will primarily be spent on housing and capital activities. No more than 15% of the CDBG grant will be used to support public services.

Citizen Participation

Copies of the Consolidated Plan will be made available to interested private individuals, associations, public organizations, and participating communities upon request. The Plan was developed by the Marin County Community Development Agency and included broad- based consultation with adjacent units of government; affordable housing advocates; nonprofit housing developers; public and nonprofit social service providers and staffs of Marin County governmental departments. On December 20, 1994, a public hearing was held to solicit comments of affordable housing needs for inclusion into the FY 1995 Consolidated Plan. On April 10, 1995, a notice was published in the Marin Independent Journal announcing that the draft Consolidated Plan was available for a 30-day public review. The Plan was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on May 16. 1995.



Sixteen percent of the county's land area in Marin is suitable for development, 11 percent has been developed, and five percent is available for development. Most of the County's jobs are low-paying service jobs, although even most middle-income families are not able to afford homeownership. Persons working locally tend to commute from less expensive outlying areas. Job growth has significantly outpaced the growth in the affordable housing supply.

The County has three "areas of low income concentration," Marin City, a predominantly African-American community, the downtown area of San Rafael, and the Canal area of San Rafael, an area which also has a high percentage of minority groups. Marin City and the Canal area of San Rafael are also "areas of minority concentration," defined as Census tracts where the non-white percentage of the population is noticeably greater than the countywide percentage.

Data indicates that residents of Marin who are white or Asian typically earn higher wages than persons of African American, Hispanic, Indian, and other heritage, and for this reason, Asian families are more often homeowners in Marin than other minority households, while 75% of black and 69% of Hispanic respondents were renters. Black households are disproportionately represented as renters of lower cost units, units which cost less than the median gross rent, and in public housing complexes in Marin City. Many Latino families are able to afford market rents because they live in overcrowded conditions, sometimes with two families sharing an apartment.

Housing Needs

Several critical housing needs have been identified. The greatest need for housing funds is for acquisition and rehabilitation of existing units; construction of new rental units for extremely, very low, and low income households, including individuals with special needs; and rental assistance. In addition, housing assistance for extremely low income persons who are homeless or at risk of homelessness continues to be a priority in the County.

Housing Market Conditions

The County experiences a high demand for housing, and upward pressure on home prices, and rents. HUD data indicates that there is a 3.8% vacancy rate for rental units and 1.7% vacancy rate for owner-occupied units. With the exception of the lowest income households, owner-occupants tend to maintain properties to preserve the higher market value (also due to more resources). Rental units tend to be well-maintained due to the high costs in rentals. Only 431 (1.2%) of 36,015 renter-occupied units are substandard. Only 244 (0.4%) of 58,991 owner-occupied units are substandard. As reported in the 1990 Census, the average value of an owner-occupied dwelling was $378,356 in 1990 (median value = $354,200). The average contract rent was $806 per month (median rent = $736). Vacant-for-sale units had an average value of $406,499. Vacant-for-rent units had a contract rent of $874. Owner occupants with a mortgage spend an average of $1,753 per month on ownership costs (median = $1,460). Low income households can afford 37.6% of available rental units, and very low income households can afford 18% of available rental units.

Affordable Housing Needs

The County's housing needs range from rental assistance to housing related services. Rental assistance is needed to reduce severe cost burden, reduce overcrowding and enable people to obtain appropriate housing. The types of housing needed include group homes for people needing supervised living quarters; multifamily housing; accessible housing for people with physical limitations and environmental sensitivities; emergency shelter for the homeless; emergency housing for battered persons; transitional housing for those at risk of becoming homeless; housing for the independent and the frail elderly; and housing with support services for persons with mental illness, physical illness, or other disabilities. In addition, housing related service needs include housing code enforcement, housing counseling, mediation services for tenants and landlords, and fair housing enforcement.

Homeless Needs

The County's Housing Authority, and the Marin Housing Center estimate that 2,500 persons are homeless in Marin. The primary need for both sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons is obtaining permanent housing. A comprehensive system of year round- shelters with well-planned services is needed.

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

There are a total of 500 public housing units in Marin County, 300 of which are in Marin City and 200 of which are in elderly/disabled complexes. The number and size of the units vary as follows: 122 studio units, 113 one-bedroom units, 138 two-bedroom units, 119 three bedroom units, and eight four-bedroom units.

The waiting list for units in Marin City is the least competitive portion of the Housing Authority's assisted housing program, because the units have some turnover and many applicants say they would rather live in other parts of Marin. The vacancy rate tends to be 2-3 percent. There are an estimated 543 Section 8 project based-assisted units in the county, with about 32 units in need of moderate rehabilitation.

Service providers for special needs populations indicated that persons with mental illnesses are in need of services which address multiple problems such as chronic mental illness and substance abuse problems.

Barriers to Affordable Housing

The high cost of housing in Marin County is due to the high level of market demand for housing in Marin, and the relative shortage of developable land. Public policies do have some impact on the cost of housing and the incentives to develop, maintain, and improve affordable housing, but are overshadowed by market demand. Much of the land in the county is in public ownership or has been zoned for agricultural use and is not available for development. Many of the remaining vacant urban sites have environmental constraints, such as steep hillsides, marshes, and toxic contamination.

Many public agencies have implemented land use and zoning policies to encourage the development of subsidized housing. For example, in order to achieve economic, racial, and ethnic integration, Marin County requires developers of market-rate housing projects to set aside a percentage of units for low-and moderate-income households. For projects with 2- 10 units, (in cases where it is not feasible to provide inclusionary units on-site) the County will collect "in lieu" fees from the developer and deposit funds in the Marin County Housing Trust Fund. Proceeds from the Marin County Housing Trust Fund are distributed to affordable housing projects.

The County permits second units to be built in many single-family districts, with size of the second units restricted to maintain affordable rents. Most jurisdictions in Marin are undertaking measures to reduce barriers to affordable housing through inclusionary housing ordinances, establishing redevelopment districts, encourage second unit conversion in existing built-out neighborhoods, density bonus policies to offer incentives for the provision of affordable housing units, permitting residential units in commercial zones, establishing an affordable housing overlay zone, and redeveloping existing buildings. Also, creating opportunities for affordable housing preservation and development in the County's decommissioned Hamilton Air Force Base is being further planned.

Fair Housing

The Marin County Community Development Agency published an "Analysis of Impediments to Housing Choice in Marin County," on September 26, 1994. This extensive study found that the high cost of housing is the greatest impediment to housing choice for minority and low income families, and the report recommended that the County should continue to support the acquisition, rehabilitation, and construction of affordable housing. The study found that the local Fair Housing Program (FHP) is successful in its investigation, education, and advocacy efforts. The report recommended continued support for this program in its work to combat housing discrimination for existing housing units in the county. The Consolidated Plan Action Plan reflected increased support for the Fair Housing Program (FHP) over the previous year's funding level.

Lead-Based Paint

A total of 88,723 housing units were built before 1940 and up until 1979. It is estimated that 16,256 (plus or minus 10%) or roughly 69 percent of housing units are occupied by very low or low income households that may contain lead-based paint hazards. In 1994, the Marin County Housing Authority spent a significant portion of its Comprehensive Grant Program funds for lead-based paint testing and abatement in Marin City public housing. All units were tested and traces of lead were found. Lead-based paint has been abated in 20 units. An additional 25 housing units with lead-based paint hazards are planned for abatement in 1995.

Community Development Needs

Housing costs have grown at a faster rate than inflation and income in the County during the last 10 years. Extremely low income, very low income, low income, and moderate income persons are likely to experience rent burden, therefore decreasing funds which may be available for health care, food, and transportation, to name a few. Financial crisis often impact family stability. Family development programs designed to assist families in crisis are needed. They sustain economic independence and contribute to the economic and social viability of the community, rather than remain dependent on public assistance are needed. There is a shortage of social services for people with multiple disabilities, as well as a need for a variety of public services, infrastructure improvements, residential and non-residential historic preservation, economic development, and planning.


In developing the Plan, Marin County consulted with adjacent units of local governments by sending a memorandum to the chief administrative officers of adjacent local governments requesting comments on housing and non-housing community development needs in Marin County. A memorandum was also sent to all city and town governments within the County requesting information on the same topic.


Housing and Community Development Objectives and Priorities

Community needs are impacted by growing housing costs as previously discussed. In order to address these needs, the County has provided financial assistance to facilities serving extremely low income, very low income, low income, and moderate income persons and neighborhoods for the provision of public and social services that provide short-term and long term services.

Housing Priorities

Priorities for affordable housing include housing assistance for extremely and very low income renters, and for all low income individuals and families. Very low income and low income homeowners will benefit from rehabilitation, new construction, acquisition, rental assistance and facilities with supportive services for people with disabilities, the elderly, homeless individuals and families, and people in need of transitional housing.

Non-Housing Community Development Priorities

The County established short-term and long-term community development objectives to address its non-housing community development objectives: Short term: provide financial assistance to facilities, public service and social service projects serving extremely low income, very low income, low income, and moderate income people and neighborhoods; provide financial assistance to eliminate barriers for people with disabilities; and work cooperatively with the Marin Community Foundation. Long term: provide assistance to projects that rectify systematic problems leading to chronic poverty; provide financial assistance to projects which help in eliminating conditions leading to neighborhood deterioration and social problems; promote human services projects which benefit the County's extremely low income, very low income, low income, and moderate income people and neighborhoods; encourage assistance to community and economic development projects and address other long-term community development objectives as new needs emerge or are recognized.

Anti-Poverty Strategy

The County believes that its goal to substantially reduce the number of households with incomes below the poverty line is not able to be achieved because its tax and sales tax revenue are insufficient to provide the financial resources that are needed. The County believes that until the state and Federal governments, which have access to income tax revenue, provide substantially increased funding for anti-poverty efforts, local governments will not be able to have a major impact on this national problem. However, the County offers an extensive employment training program, as well as a broad range of social services and medical care to people in poverty. In addition, a development project (Marin City U.S.A.) consisting of a shopping center and affordable housing in Marin City (a highly concentrated poverty area) will be available to residents. A variety of community development services and projects are also available to address affordable housing, and public services needs.

Housing and Community Development Resources

The primary Federal resources within Marin County are CDBG, HOME, Section 202, Section 811, and HOPWA.

Coordination of Strategic Plan

The Marin Housing and Services continuum was organized in March 1993 to develop a strategy to achieve a coordinated, comprehensive system of housing and related services ranging from emergency shelter to permanent housing. The group consists of the Housing Authority, and nonprofit organizations specializing in health, mental health, housing, and social services. The County coordinated with city and town governments requesting information on housing and non-housing community development needs.


Description of Key Projects

The County's CDBG funds are divided with 40% for housing on a countywide basis and 60% divided among the six planning areas which are used for housing, capital, and public service projects. The 1995-95 CDBG and HOME funds will be spent on an array of activities as follows:


For the purpose of the CDBG funds, Marin County has designated six geographic planning areas: Novato, San Rafael, Upper Ross Valley, Lower Ross Valley, Richardson Bay, and West Marin. The availability of CDBG Countywide Housing and HOME funds makes it possible to direct funding to housing opportunities that require a large infusion of funding for a period of one or two years, even if that project is located in an area which does not have sufficient poverty or overcrowding to qualify for a large CDBG planning area allocation. The County's local funding formulas balance the need to support local projects with the need to support housing on a countywide basis. While an overwhelming need for affordable housing is common to all the planning areas, each geographic area is unique and needs can vary among the planning areas.

Lead Agencies

Marin County is a participant in the Housing Continuum, which is bringing together representatives of public agencies and private nonprofits to envision better ways to organize the provision of subsidized housing and supportive services. The County will continue the collaboration of the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, the Marin County Community Development Agency, the Housing Authority, and nonprofit service providers in the provision of housing and supportive services.

Housing Goals

Highlights of Marin County's housing goals for the first year include increasing the supply of affordable housing with 448 housing units through acquisition and/or new construction; rehabilitating 45 units of housing, and assisting 97 people with disabilities for housing accessibility improvements. Additionally three public facilities used as residential treatment facilities will be rehabilitated. CDBG funds will also be used to support a housing advocacy program which educates the community on the need and value of affordable housing. 816 person are targeted to received assistance with fair housing issues to increase housing choice for minority or low-income citizens. 18 people with mental illness will be assisted with CDBG provided staff support through the Shelter Plus Care program, and an emergency shelter for housing 80 persons per evening will be developed.


MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.

MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.

MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.

MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.

MAP 5 depicts low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects; in addition, a table depicts information about the project(s).

MAP 6 depicts Neighborhood Segments and streets with proposed HUD funded projects.

To comment on Marin County's Consolidated Plan, please contact:
Jane Watts
Senior Planner
Federal Grants Division
3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903-4157
(415) 499-6697

Return to California's Consolidated Plans.