Our Story: Rooted in Community Service
Ritter Center’s roots date back to the early 1970s when a federally mandated Families and Children Committee was commissioned by the Marin County Welfare Department to determine the needs of low-income people and to implement supportive services then.
These services were eventually established and funded in 1976 through Community Action Marin (CAM). When the “War on Poverty” funding diminished, the CAM Emergency Services Program was in line to be disbanded. CAM and the Volunteer Center of Marin solicited support through the community’s congregations. They were instrumental in organizing a group of volunteers to form a Board of Directors who incorporated as a new nonprofit organization named the Human Concern Center of Marin in 1980.
This community passion and partner collaboration has remained strong throughout Ritter Center’s history, helping to shape our programs, purpose, and vision.
Our Day Services Center, for example, was the result of the work of the Blue Ribbon Homeless Working Group, formed in 1989 by the County of Marin, Marin Council of Mayors, Marin Community Foundation, and Marin Interfaith Council. The Homeless Working Group sought to meet the personal needs of Marin’s homeless population, including healthcare, behavioral healthcare, mail delivery, showers, and laundry.
The organization changed its name to Ritter House in 1996, then to Ritter Center in April 2003. Initially, Ritter Center’s precursors solely provided “safety net” services such as clothing, food, and showers, laundry, and restroom facilities. In the mid-1990s, our organization began providing medical care and case management service, and in 2010, Ritter Center started to provide behavioral health counseling and permanent supportive housing.
Health care services were added in 1995 and expanded into a separate building in 2013, when Ritter Center became a Federally Qualified Health Care for the Homeless Center (FQHC) grantee. This enabled Ritter Center to provide health care services, regardless of someone’s ability to pay. For anyone whose income is below the poverty line, our services are FREE.
In 2015, Ritter Center launched an intensive outpatient substance use treatment program at two emergency shelters operated by Homeward Bound of Marin. In 2017, in collaboration with St. Vincent de Paul and the Marin Housing Authority, Ritter Center launched the County of Marin’s Whole Person Care pilot program. The goal was to create an evidence-based and outcomes-focused coordinated system of care across health and social sectors to more efficiently and effectively serve Marin County’s most vulnerable Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Through this partnership, Ritter Center along with county-wide partners have reduced chronic homelessness by 28% and housed 389 people (as of August 2021).
Evolving from a small, grass-roots organization, today Ritter Center’s highly experienced staff and board of over 60 provides a multitude of much-needed services to the most vulnerable families and individuals in Marin County. We serve more than 2,570 clients annually with healthcare, housing, and food services and programs. Over 65% of our clients are low-income Marin County families and individuals who are housed, but need help to remain in their homes, and 35% of our clients have experienced some form of homelessness in their lives.
Ritter Center is a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt charitable organization. We receive funding for our work from the following sources: Federal funds designated for combatting homelessness and providing health services for individuals living in poverty, the State of California, the County of Marin, The Marin Community Foundation, the SF-Marin Food Bank, and generous individual, institutional, and corporate donors in the community.