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Faster, Cheaper: How California Is Revolutionizing Homeless Housing — And Why It Might Not Last

By Erin Baldassari - June 9, 2021

Letta “Oneka” Glover sits in a common area of an office building in San Rafael that is converted into a temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness on May 17, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

When Letta “Oneka” Glover checked into the shelter in San Rafael, she was exhausted.

She’s 50 and has bad knees, a condition made worse by sleeping in her car. That’s where she was living in February when she heard about the new shelter on Kerner Boulevard. She moved in a week later.

“It was relief,” Glover said. “I felt like I could kind of let my shoulders down, you know, and not have to be so on guard about everything.”

This shelter isn't like others, where she's stayed. It’s tucked into the third floor of an office building that was once home to a legal services company. But instead of desks and chairs inside the offices, there are cots. The old lobby is now a shared workspace, with computers for residents to search for jobs and housing. Large windows line a common room, with views of Mount Tamalpais.

Usually, temporary shelters are built in factories or warehouses, said Paul Fordham, deputy executive director of Homeward Bound of Marin, which is operating the shelter until it can be converted into permanent housing.

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