Solutions (4)

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New Digs for San Mateo County Homeless

Bottom Line: The City of San Mateo and Shelter Network team up to renovate a city-owned single occupancy hotel to help get chronically homeless people off the street.

vendome hotel pic

In 2007, the City of San Mateo and Shelter Network, launched a new program to help meet the needs of the chronically homeless population in the city (those who typically do not benefit from traditional shelter services due to multiple barriers including mental health or addiction). The centerpiece of the program is the newly rehabilitated Vendome Hotel. This single-occupancy hotel, owned by the City of San Mateo, was renovated with the help of local community members and businesses, and is now operated by the Shelter Network.

Become a Homeowner with Help From Habitat for Humanity

Bottom Line: Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco selects hard-working families with very low incomes to partner with them as homeowners.

Home Owner_HabitatHabitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, partners with hardworking families, community volunteers and donors, to build affordable ownership homes in Marin, San Francisco and on the Peninsula. Habitat Greater San Francisco provides a hand-up, not a handout for families in desperate need of improved living conditions. This opportunity is ever more important to low-income families during these tough economic times. Applicants for homeownership must go through a thorough selection process, including a review of financial status, job history, residency, and other qualifications. Applicants must meet certain income guidelines, have good credit, a minimal level of debt, and be willing and able to perform 500 hours of “sweat equity” to build their own home. At every step of the screening process, eligible families that move forward are celebrated. Houses are sold to partner families at no profit and are financed with affordable, zero interest mortgages that never exceeds 1/3 of the family’s monthly income.

Creative Living Arrangements Help Families Cope

Bottom Line: Creative living arrangements are community approaches to keeping people in their homes.

HipHousingAs the housing crisis unravels in 2009, people are adopting innovative living arrangements that reduce expenses, make mortgages affordable, and provide steady streams of income. One example of this is shared living arrangements. In this arrangement, two or more unrelated people share a home or apartment. Each person has a private room but shares common areas. Both parties can pay rent or there can be a service exchange in lieu of money. In a service exchange, one person provides childcare, elderly assistance, or other needed duties for another person. This is a low cost way to maintain stability and protection for people who might otherwise be unable to afford housing.

Free Services and Resources for Low-Income Families

Bottom Line: The Samaritan House provides a wide array of valuable free services and resources to low-income residents of San Mateo County with a focus on preserving dignity and increasing self-sufficiency.


Established in 1974, Samaritan House is a non-profit health and human services organization with over 30 years of experience in providing a broad range of free services and resources to low-income residents in San Mateo County. Each year they provide 9,000 visits in their two free medical clinics, supply more than 400 people with a warm bed, make over 120,000 meals, collect over 400,000 pounds of food from food drives and distribute 40,000 new toys to children.