County of Marin - News Releases - Rental Housing Survey

For Immediate Release
October 08, 2015

Preserving Existing Affordable Housing in Marin

Public workshop set for October 13 during Board of Supervisors meeting

San Rafael, CA – It’s a story we’re hearing throughout the Bay Area: Housing and rental prices are growing faster than wages, causing low-income and moderate-income residents to struggle. That’s certainly the case in Marin County, one of the most beautiful and desirable places to live in the world. Housing affordability is also a key factor in employee recruitment for local businesses, school districts, and nonprofits. So at 9 a.m. October 13, the Marin County Board of Supervisors will hear about new strategies to address the housing crisis and preserve existing low- and moderate-income housing during an informational public workshop.

A front view of Toussin Place, an affordable housing complex in Marin.

Fresh statistics show that the median single-family detached home in Marin costs about $1 million and a condominium or townhome averages more than $500,000. Rental prices have soared as well. This year, the monthly average rent for all apartments is nearly $2,500, up 66 percent since 2005. Based on housing affordability standards, household occupants would need to earn $98,240 per year to afford the average rental in Marin and about $200,000 annually to afford the average single-family home.

Local workers, seniors and families with low and moderate incomes are being priced out of their existing housing, forcing them out of Marin. Less affordable housing means longer commutes to work, clogging motorways and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Preserving existing affordable housing just makes sense; once it’s gone, it will be gone forever,” said Board of Supervisors President Katie Rice. “We need to find ways to maintain a mix of housing and affordability, and provide greater opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents to stay in Marin.”

At the workshop, staff will review the 2015 Rental Housing Survey and examine options for preserving existing housing stock for low- and moderate-income residents. The Supervisors will not be voting to take any action that day, but they will provide direction among a number of policy options ranging from:

  • purchasing existing housing to preserve economic diversity;
  • building new units for a variety of income levels;
  • providing incentives for affordable second units;
  • offering one-time incentives to landlords willing to rent to low-income tenants;
  • providing amnesty to those providing illegal second units; and
  • considering tenant protection options.

Why is the County looking at these strategies now? Here are more key figures about Marin’s housing challenges:

  • Many existing long-time homeowners wouldn’t be able to afford their homes at current market prices.
  • Household occupants need to earn nearly $100,000 per year to afford the average rental and at least $200,000 to afford to purchase the average single-family home.
  • Less than 4 percent of all housing in unincorporated Marin is reserved for low- or moderate-income residents.
  • The number of homeless, at-risk of homelessness and precariously housed people is on the rise.
  • Fewer Latino, Asian and black families are moving to Marin because of a perception of it being unwelcome toward minorities.

The workshop begins at 9 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors chambers (Suite 330) of the Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. Comments on the topic may be submitted via email to Alisa Stevenson, Planner for the Community Development Agency, at

All public meetings and events sponsored or conducted by the County of Marin are held at accessible sites. If you are a person with a disability and require information or materials in alternative formats – or if you require accommodation to participate in a county program, service or activity – please contact department staff at (415) 473-7331 or (415) 473-4381 (voice/TTY) or e-mail


Jocelyn Drake
Senior Planner
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 303
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6245
Email: Jocelyn Drake
CDA website