Current Updates on The Casa Buena

This page was last updated on 10/21/2021

Staff Update 10/21/2021

On Tuesday, October 19, 2021, the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to authorize the President of the Board to execute a lease agreement with Homeward Bound of Marin, to operate “The Casa Buena” located at 1591 Casa Buena Drive in Corte Madera.  Additionally, the Board of Supervisors authorized the President of the Board to execute a Funding Agreement up to $1,862,822, with Homeward Bound of Marin for the renovation of “The Casa Buena.” The funding will create 18 new units of permanent supportive housing for vulnerable people in our community.

The County’s Department of Health & Human Services, Homeward Bound of Marin, and the County Administrator’s Office worked with a design team and construction consultants to confirm the feasibility of renovating the facility. This work includes kitchenettes in each unit, accessibility and EV charging station upgrades, and exterior enhancements. The estimated timing for the building construction is approximately five months from the time the lease and funding agreements are executed.

During the design process, the County worked with the Town of Corte Madera Building and Planning Department, Central Marin Fire Department, and the County’s Community Development Agency (lead permitting agency). The design team also worked with the Town of Corte Madera community-working group and adjacent neighbors to obtain design input.  It is anticipated that the County will receive a building permit from the Community Development Agency by November 1, 2021 and begin construction shortly thereafter.  

By the end of October, all existing temporary residents of “The Casa Buena” will be relocated to an alternative housing location to allow construction to begin. The end of October also marks the end of the contracted professional services agreement between the County of Marin and Catholic Charities to operate their interim housing services for “The Casa Buena.”  Once construction is complete, the County will work with Homeward Bound of Marin to identify and place new residents into the newly renovated permanent supportive housing facility.  In the upcoming months, the Town of Corte Madera and the community-working group intends to co-host a community meeting with Homeward Bound, so they can introduce themselves and share their policies, procedures and vision for The Casa Buena.  More information on a community meeting will follow in the months to come. 

**************************************************************************

Staff Update 7/30/2021

Community Meeting- Upcoming Changes at The Casa Buena; Opportunity for Community Input on Proposed Concept Site Plan
The County of Marin is actively working with design professionals to transition The Casa Buena (Formerly Project Homekey), located at 1591 Casa Buena Drive, from Temporary Transitional Housing to Permanent Supporting Housing.  This transition involves renovations to both the interior of the structure and exterior of the site.  The interior renovations involve the addition of kitchenettes and minor modifications to the individual living units. 

The Town of Corte Madera is facilitating this community meeting with the County of Marin, their design team, and members of The Casa Buena Working Group on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 at 4 PM via zoom, to share information regarding upcoming construction activity and design concepts for the upcoming renovations and exterior site plan improvements.   

The County’s design team will provide an overview of the project scope of work, construction timeline, and proposed plans for exterior site improvements.  To review the County’s proposed concept site plan before the scheduled meeting, please click here to review the designer's plans https://www.townofcortemadera.org/DocumentCenter/View/6599/20210728-LANDSCAPE-Site-Plan-.  

The County team and the Casa Buena Working Group are particularly interested in community input and comments related to the exterior improvements proposed for the site.

Please join us on August 3, 2021 at 4 PM to stay informed on this project.  

When: Aug 3, 2021 04:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Topic: Update on Coming Changes at the Casa Buena

Please click the link to join the webinar: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84230929493

**************************************************************************

Staff Update 7/20/2021

Community Meeting- Upcoming Changes at The Casa Buena; Opportunity for Community Input
The County of Marin is actively working with design professionals to transition The Casa Buena (Fomerly Project Homekey), located at 1591 Casa Buena Drive, from Temporary Transitional Housing to Permanent Supporting Housing.  This transition involves renovations to both the interior of the structure and exterior of the site.  The interior renovations involve the addition of kitchenettes and minor modifications to the individual living units. 

The Town of Corte Madera is facilitating this community meeting with the County of Marin, their design team, and members of The Casa Buena Working Group on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 at 4 PM via zoom, to share information regarding upcoming construction activity and design concepts for the upcoming renovations and exterior site plan improvements.   The County’s design team will provide an overview of the project scope of work, construction timeline, and proposed plans for exterior site improvements.  The County team and Casa Buena Working Group is particularly interested in community input and comments related to the exterior improvements proposed for the site.  Please join us on August 3, 2021 at 4 PM to stay informed on this project.  

When: Aug 3, 2021 04:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Topic: Update on Coming Changes at the Casa Buena

Please click the link to join the webinar: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84230929493

Or One tap mobile:  US: +16699006833,,84230929493#  or +14086380968,,84230929493# 

Or Telephone: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):  +1 669 900 6833;or +1 408 638 0968; Webinar ID: 842 3092 9493

 International numbers available: https://us06web.zoom.us/u/kbhHbcBHZs

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 6/11/2021

Are you interested in volunteering with Project Homekey and helping us make the outside space at Casa Buena beautiful? We are looking for some volunteers to help with weeding and planting and generally improving the outside space for the residents who live there. Additional volunteer opportunities are also available. Hours and commitment are very flexible. Please contact us at homekey@tcmmail.org.

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 5/27/2021

The County has announced that it will be renovating the rooms at the Casa Buena beginning late summer or early fall.  The plan may include adding kitchenettes, renovating the former manager's quarters to provide an office for staff and a social space for the residents to gather, and improvements to the exterior of the building and the grounds.  The Town and County will welcome community input on the plans for the upcoming renovation.  Please stay tuned for an announcement of how to participate in this process.

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 5/7/2021

The Town of Corte Madera would like to welcome community member Adriana Rabkin to the Casa Buena Resident Working Group.  Adriana was selected to replace Barbara Sarazan Snyder who unfortunately had to step down from her role due to other increased commitments.  The Town would like to thank Barbara for her volunteer service on the working group and welcome Adriana to the team.

A little about Adriana…..Adriana leads Marin VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), a collaborative organization of non-profit and community based organizations and government agencies involved in Marin’s disaster response. Adriana and her husband moved to Marin from New York 13 years ago and have raised their two boys in Mariner Cove for all of that time. Adriana will focus on volunteerism and donation efforts for the Casa Buena.

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 4/2/2021

Opportunity to Help a Casa Buena Family
It is with a heavy heart that we report that one of the guests at the Casa Buena passed away last week. He was a young man with chronic health problems. He died peacefully with his mother at his side and the Casa Buena staff there to support the family. His mother, who is also a guest at Casa Buena, would like to cremate his remains, as was her son’s request, but she does not have the funds to do so. If you would like to contribute to his cremation, please visit https://www.catholiccharitiessf.org/give/give.html to donate online (please note in the “specify a program” field that your donation is for “Casa Buena”).  Or you can mail a check to the following address: Catholic Charities, Attention: Ellen Hammerle, One St. Vincent Dr., San Rafael CA 94903 (again, please note in the memo line that it’s for the Casa Buena).  Any funds raised beyond what is needed for the cremation/memorial will be placed into a fund to be used for unexpected or emergency needs for guests at the Casa Buena.  If you have any questions or comments, please email homekey@tcmmail.org.

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 3/24/2021

The Casa Buena - Community Forum
 Wondering about the status of the Casa Buena?  Please join us on April 19, 2021 from 6:00-7:30pm for our first Casa Buena Community Forum!  Members of the working group, Town staff, County staff, and representatives from our charitable partners, Catholic Charities and Opening Doors Marin, will discuss the project and answer questions from the community.  Topics will include:

  • Move-in status
  • Services offered to support new residents
  • Future renovation plans
  • Volunteering and donating
  • Measuring success

Questions may be sent in advance to homekey@tcmmail.org.  There will also be a Q&A during the forum. Please use this zoom link to join the forum: https://zoom.us/j/94357473164
- Or iPhone one-tap: +14086380968,,94357473164#
- Or Telephone:
         Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 408 638 0968  Webinar ID: 943 5747 3164

We look forward to seeing you there!

Donation/Volunteer Opportunities at Casa Buena
Over the last couple months, the Casa Buena working group members have received several inquiries from community members inquiring whether they could volunteer their time or offer a donation that would assist our new residents. For those interested in making a donation or volunteering their time, the new residents are in need of new shoes and clothing, so gift certificates to Target, TJ Maxx or Big 5 would be much appreciated. Other appropriate donations include gift cards to Safeway, food items such as healthy snacks, soups and fresh fruit, as well flowers or a plant to brighten the residents’ rooms. Volunteer opportunities include shopping for food or clothing for the residents, providing transportation, teaching an art class, or simply spending time with the residents to uplift their spirits. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Kendra Heiken at KHeiken@catholiccharitiessf.org.

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 3/5/2021

The Casa Buena residents are continuing to settle into their new homes.  As with any move to a new location, it may take some time for the residents and staff to figure out the best way to integrate into the local community.  We ask for your patience and compassion as we work together toward a peaceful coexistence.  We are planning a Community Forum to be held by zoom in April to provide more information and respond to community questions.  Meanwhile, we welcome any comments, questions, or concerns at homekey@tcmmail.org.   Please watch for a subtle transitioning in our messaging as our Corte Madera "Homekey Project" becomes officially rebranded to "The Casa Buena."  

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 2/26/2021

The Casa Buena Is Open!
Final improvements for “The Casa Buena” were completed last week which resulted in the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. On Monday, February 22, 2021, under the supervision of Catholic Charities, our new residents began occupying the lower units of the property. It is anticipated the remaining units will achieve maximum occupancy in the weeks to come. To celebrate this milestone, and welcome our new residents to Corte Madera, we have prepared a brief video as a virtual “ribbon cutting” ceremony. Click here to watch the video or click on the embedded video below.   

Welcome Bags:
 Welcome bags will begin to be distributed this week! We are so pleased to report that over 50 community members participated in this project. Volunteers shopped for 18 welcome baskets, containing toiletries, easy-to-prepare food, slippers and pillows, and various other items that are sure to be helpful to our new neighbors. Others contributed homemade scarves, grocery store gift cards, and homemade items from the Girl Scouts.  We raised over $900 in donations which will be used to purchase similar items.  We thank the community for their generosity and kindness!

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 2/12/2021

Move-In Timeline:
The construction crews are putting on the finishing touches in anticipation of the first group of residents moving in following the weekend holiday, with more to move in over the course of the next few weeks. The renovated units are simple, modern, and bright. Each unit includes a queen or king size bed, two bedside tables, a desk/kitchen area, an armoire, and a spacious bathroom with a shower. Click here to view a few photographs of the move-in ready rooms. 

The Town welcomes our new residents to “The Casa Buena” and hope they enjoy the new amenities.  As our new neighbors arrive to their new residences, we would like to remind our residents that “The Casa Buena” will be staffed and managed by Catholic Charities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  As the new residents arrive, we will be scheduling the deliveries of the thoughtful welcome baskets.

We encourage our community members to sign up to be notified when this webpage is updated so that you can receive information as it becomes available.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
The Corte Madera representatives on the Working Group are here to represent your interests. Please email homekey@tcmmail.org provide any comments or questions you may have as this project continues.

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 2/5/2021

The Town of Corte Madera and our working group members continue to meet and work towards ensuring our local Homekey project is successful for all. We are committed to reporting back to the community on the Homekey progress. Below are updates from the Town and our working group sub-committees:

Name:
To facilitate the engagement of the property into our community, we have adopted an informal name to replace “Homekey.” From now on, in town communications, the property will be referred to as “The Casa Buena.” This name reflects both the street name and our hope that this property will provide a “good home” for our new residents. Please note that this is a temporary name only; over the summer or fall when the ownership changes, the name may change as well.

Move-In Timeline:
The owners have made great progress on the improvements required to obtain a certificate of occupancy.  A Temporary Occupancy Permit (TCO) was issued on Friday, February 5, 2021, which will allow the tenants to move in without restrictions.  It is anticipated that the tenants will begin to move into “The Casa Buena” on or about Monday, February 15, 2021.

Welcome Bags:
We continue to gather welcome bags and are beginning the final organizing process before distributing them to the residents.

Exterior Redesign:
The Exterior Redesign team met to view the property.  They continue working on immediate beautification as well as ideas for longer-term improvements, such as fencing, landscaping, parking, and renovating the manager’s unit into an office.

Metrics for Success:
The Metrics for Success team is continuing its evaluation of methods for tracking the impact of the Corte Madera Homekey project across various parameters.

Once we have more information to share, we look forward to hosting informational sessions held over Zoom so that residents can ask questions and learn more about the status of the project. We encourage our community members to sign up to be notified when this webpage is updated so that you can receive information as it becomes available. 

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
The Corte Madera representatives on the Working Group are here to represent your interests. Please email homekey@tcmmail.org provide any comments or questions you may have as this project continues.

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 1/22/2021

Town Update/Move-in Timeline:
The Town continues to work with the owners of the former motel and the County as they complete the necessary improvements required to occupy the building. Contractors are working on final corrections and required modifications, and at this point we anticipate a mid-February completion. Although renovations have moved more slowly than initially expected, we have recently seen significant progress. Once the certificate of occupancy is issued, our new neighbors will likely move in within just a couple of days.

Volunteerism/Welcome Bags:
 Local residents have come forward with great enthusiasm and generosity to support our new neighbors, including:

  • many volunteers have participated in shopping for welcome bags, including at least two girl scout troops;
  • the Corte Madera Women's Group donated homemade scarves;
  • one resident donated several hundred dollars for the purchase of bus passes;
  • we are reaching out to local retail businesses to ask for donations;
  • the Corte Madera Community Foundation has stepped forward to assist us in collecting cash donations; and
  • the Town of Corte Madera donated several gift cards to local restaurants to provide local meals for our new residents.

We anticipate having all welcome bags ready for the new residents when they move in sometime in February. We are so grateful for our local community’s spirit of generosity and compassion!

Exterior Redesign:
While current work continues on the exterior of the building, the working group has begun to consider short and medium term efforts to improve the project site through landscaping and other exterior modifications with the goal of improving site aesthetics, privacy and creating a project that feels more residential in character. Short term efforts may focus on landscaping improvements that can be accomplished quickly at little cost, while medium term efforts may be more significant and timed to coordinate with the project’s transition to permanent supportive housing.

Metrics for Success:
We are working on ways we can track the impact of the Corte Madera Homekey project across various parameters. Areas of focus will include:

  • impact of the shelter on homelessness in Marin;
  • changes in calls for service (e.g. police, fire, ambulance, etc);
  • awareness of, and satisfaction with, the shelter by local residents and businesses; and
  • impact on nearby housing values.

We are still early in the process, and the feasibility of measuring the parameters listed above have not been established. As such, final success metrics may be different. In the near term, the group has decided to focus on fielding a qualitative survey of local residents to establish a baseline level of awareness and satisfaction. Please keep an eye out for the survey in this and other publications. We are targeting mid-February for rollout. Your feedback will be greatly appreciated!

Once we have more information to share, we look forward to hosting informational sessions held over Zoom so that residents can ask questions and learn more about the status of the project. We encourage our community members to sign up to be notified when this webpage is updated so that you can receive information as it becomes available.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
The Corte Madera representatives on the Working Group are here to represent your interests. Please email homekey@tcmmail.org provide any comments or questions you may have as this project continues.

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 1/8/2021

On Monday, January 4, 2021, the Town received a request for a follow-up inspection for the construction and remodel project as the project is nearing completion. Corte Madera building inspectors conducted an inspection on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.  Inspectors learned the project is moving along and is nearing completion, with much of the remaining work related to accessibility.  It is anticipated that remaining work could be completed by the end of January.  Once the work is complete an occupancy permit will be provided by the Town allowing residential occupancy of the site.  As previously noted, the County will place residents in the project who have been vetted through their Coordinated Entry System.

More information related to Marin County’s Coordinated Entry System can be found on the County’s website.  The following links from the County’s website provide specific information related to the Coordinated Entry System, and includes their specific policies and procedures associated with Coordinated Entry. 

https://www.marincounty.org/-/media/files/departments/cd/housing/homekey/20201106-marin-ces-twopager-for-public.pdf?la=en

https://www.marinhhs.org/sites/default/files/boards/general/approved_2018_coordinated_entry_policies_and_procedures_2018.02.14.pdf

On November 17, 2020, the County of Marin approved a professional service agreement with Catholic Charities to operate their interim housing for Project Homekey at the Corte Madera location.  The agreement contains detailed information related to the identified scope of services, general program requirements, confidentiality, reporting, monitoring and compliance, and a complete fiscal budget including 24 hour staffing. You can view the contract by clicking here

The Project Homekey Working Group has already met, and is actively working on metrics for success, exterior redesign options, community communications, and public service opportunities. The Working Group will provide regular updates as information becomes available.  In our next update, we intend to announce the completion of work, the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy, and narrowed timeframe for move in.  

Once we have more information to share, we look forward to hosting informational sessions held over Zoom so that residents can ask questions and learn more about the status of the project. We encourage our community members to sign up to be notified when this webpage is updated so that you can receive information as it becomes available.

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 12/18/2020

The Working Group met on December 16, 2020.  The group is working on creating committees to facilitate work on specific issues related to the project, including: (1) Communications; (2) Success metrics; (3) Exterior improvements; and (4) Community engagement/volunteerism.

Renovations are continuing on the property, including improvements related to sprinklers, ADA compliance, and the parking lot. We are informed that the first residents will move in no earlier than mid-January 2021.  

Want to help?
The Working Group will be coordinating the creation of “welcome bags” for the residents who will be moving into the property. Many of these people have very few possessions and will be arriving to a new home very close to the holidays. We would like our first act as neighbors to be welcome them and help them feel like they are an important part of our community. The Working Group is seeking to identify community members who are interested in shopping for items, or donating money to this effort. If you would like to help, please email: homekey@tcmmail.org.  

Continuing Updates
The Working Group will provide regular updates on this website and in the newsletter. Once we have more information to share, we also anticipate hosting informational sessions held over Zoom so residents can ask questions and learn more about the status of the project. We encourage our community members to sign up to be notified when this webpage is updated so that you will receive information as it becomes available. 

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
The Corte Madera representatives on the Working Group are here to represent your interests. Please email homekey@tcmmail.org provide any comments or questions you may have as this project continues.  

**************************************************************************

Working Group Update 12/11/2020

Corte Madera’s resident group members met on December 2, 2020, and the full Working Group is scheduled to meet on December 16, 2020.  In addition to the residents named above, the full Working Group includes the following participants:  

  • Andrew Hening, Facilitator- Opening Doors Marin;
  • Ashley Hart McIntyre, JD – Homeless Policy Analyst, Marin County Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Lorenzo G. Cordova- Office of Marin County’s 4th District Supervisor Dennis Rodoni;
  • Fred Casissa- Councilmember, Town of Corte Madera;
  • Adam Wolff, AICP – Planning & Building Director, Town of Corte Madera;
  • Rob Strahan, Program Director and Erick Brown, Director of Client Services, both with Catholic Charities

Current Status of the Property
Escrow on the sale of the property from the hotel owners to the County closed on November 30, 2020.   The sellers are presently completing construction that was required under the terms of sale, including improvements related to sprinklers, ADA compliance, and the parking lot. 

Move-in Dates
Once the improvements are complete, the first residents may move in.  Originally, the State required the project to be 50% occupied within 30 days of November 30; however, given the status of the renovations,  the State may provide some limited flexibility regarding this deadline.  We do not yet know how many residents will move in at first, what their specific move-in dates will be, or when all 18 units will be occupied, as these dates depend upon the completion of the construction (see above).  The County is working with Catholic Charities to identify the individuals who will eventually move into the housing.