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EDITORIAL: Editorial: Turning Marin firehouse into care center a key step to addressing mental health concerns

Marin Independent Journal - 8/19/2023

Aug. 19—Plans to turn a long-closed firehouse into a 15-bed residential treatment center for people with substance abuse and mental health conditions makes sense.

It is making use of a public building to address a public need.

The county has received a $7.9 million state grant to convert the old city firehouse at the end of Joseph Court in San Rafael. The 60-year-old property was a firehouse for many years, but recently it has been used as a hub for paramedic teams. Most recently, it was where the county's Fire Foundry Program training recruits lived and their equipment was stored.

The station was seen as a temporary home for the program and a more permanent location is being sought, possibly in renovated buildings on College of Marin's campuses, either in Kentfield or Novato'sIndian Valley.

The center's neighbors are mostly industrial and frontage road businesses in the Northgate area.

For the county, the new facility will mean that patients won't have to be sent out of Marin for care.

The center will be a voluntary program. It follows the country's conversion of its property at 920 Grand Ave. in San Rafael into a 16-bed transitional treatment center for adults with serious mental illness and substance-abuse disorders.

The new center will be part of that safety net. Besides short-term housing — 30 to 90 days — there will be individual and group counseling, mental health and substance abuse support and help in finding permanent housing.

It should play a role in the county's efforts to reduce homelessness across Marin.

The county plans to have Buckelew Programs, a longstanding Marin nonprofit, manage and operate the new center, including overseeing the conversion.

Having a local center where Marin residents can find the help they need means they don't have to travel outside of the county. It also keeps them connected to friends and family, who can play an important role in the success of their treatment.

The new center is about Marin taking care of its own, keeping patients close to the support they need.


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