Opening in Fall 2022

To listen to the community information forum held on September 20, 2022 click here: El Camino House Community Forum Video

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, please go to your local CORE agency to learn about available services:

In March 2022, the County of San Mateo acquired a building located in the City of San Mateo that was formerly the Stone Villa Inn hotel. The County is opening a non-congregate shelter program at this site, which will begin operations in the Fall of 2022.

El Camino House, the shelter that will operate out of the former Stone Villa Inn, will provide 44 units of safe temporary living accommodations and intensive on-site support services to assist people experiencing homelessness with finding and moving into permanent housing.

El Camino House will be operated by Samaritan House, in close coordination with the County of San Mateo. Samaritan House is a nonprofit with extensive experience operating homeless service programs, including shelters and safety net services. Samaritan House has been providing homeless services to San Mateo County’s unhoused population for 35 years. As operator of Safe Harbor Shelter, a 115-bed homeless shelter located in South San Francisco, and Pacific Emergency Shelter, a 73-unit shelter in Redwood City, Samaritan House continues to support clients as they transition from homelessness to stable housing. 

The County’s long-term goal is to convert El Camino House into affordable housing.

Please see the Questions and Answers below for more information on El Camino House.

El Camino House Frequently Asked Questions


What is the shelter?

El Camino House is a short-term program designed to act as a safety net for individuals who are experiencing homelessness and have been unsheltered (living outdoors, in vehicles or other places not meant for human habitation). Individuals who enter shelter receive immediate short-term case management to address and resolve current crises, as well as intensive case management focused on addressing barriers that prevent them from securing permanent housing.

Why is the shelter needed?

There is a significant need for shelter and housing in San Mateo County. The 2022 San Mateo County One Day Homeless Count found that there were 1,808 people experiencing homelessness in San Mateo County on the night of February 23, 2022.  Of this number, 1,092 people were experiencing unsheltered homelessness staying on streets, in cars, in recreational vehicles (RVs), or in tents.  This number represents a 21% increase in the number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in comparison to 2019.

Why now?

The County aims to achieve a “functional zero” level of homelessness in San Mateo County. This means ensuring that every County resident experiencing homelessness who chooses to can be safely sheltered in an emergency shelter or in temporary or permanent housing.

In order to achieve this aim of a “functional zero” level of homelessness, the County has worked to increase housing options and supply, as well as increasing services. Using state Homekey funds and other grants, the County has purchased five former motels/hotels for conversion into permanent housing or shelter.

These properties are:

  • Shores Landing, 1000 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City: 95 units.
  • Casa Esperanza, 1818 El Camino Real, Redwood City: 51 units
  • Coast House, 230 Cabrillo Highway, Half Moon Bay: 51 units
  • Pacific Shelter, 2610 El Camino Real, Redwood City: 74 units
  • El Camino House, 2175 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo: 44 units

Additionally, on April 13, 2022, the County broke ground on a new 240-unit Navigation Center in Redwood City that will provide shelter and intensive services for individuals and couples.

El Camino House is an essential part of the County’s efforts to increase housing options and, ultimately, to achieve a “functional zero” level of homelessness.

Who is served?

El Camino House serves San Mateo County residents who are experiencing homelessness. Since the greatest need for shelter is for adults and there are existing services for families throughout the County, El Camino House will serve single adults and two-person adult households.

Is the program staffed 24/7?

Yes. Samaritan House, the nonprofit that will operate El Camino House under a contract with the County of San Mateo, will staff the shelter 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring the safety and security of the premises for occupants.

Are services provided on site?

Yes. Samaritan House will deliver intensive on-site services. The program will conduct a thorough assessment with each program participant when they enter the program, and based on that assessment, staff members will work with each participant to develop a personalized plan to prepare for, locate, and secure permanent housing. Samaritan House staff members will provide case management, support with housing searches, assistance with employment opportunities and financial resources, and help accessing health services (including physical health, mental health, and substance abuse services as needed). In addition to its intensive on-site services, Samaritan House partners with community agencies such as Abode Services, HIP Housing, MidPen Housing, Mental Health Association, Housing Industry Foundation, California Apartment Association, LifeMoves, San Mateo County Department of Housing, and more, to support program participants as they transition to permanent housing.

How long do participants stay at the shelter?

Homeless shelter programs are intended to be short term, with shelter stays averaging 120 days to six months. However, due to the current pandemic, some stays have been longer. The shelter program will provide temporary shelter while offering a pathway for participants to secure permanent housing. Samaritan House case management services focus on helping shelter residents identify long-term housing solutions.

How do people access this program?

Referrals into El Camino House, and all other shelter programs in San Mateo County, are made through the Coordinated Entry System, which is accessed at any of the eight Core Service Agencies located throughout the County. Samaritan House also operates the Core Service Agency program serving the City of San Mateo. For individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness who may have challenges connecting with a Core Service Agency, homeless outreach case managers will meet with them in the community and help them connect to the Coordinated Entry System.

Will this program eliminate homelessness in the area?

El Camino House, along with the existing homeless shelter programs and also the Navigation Center and the five former motels/hotels that have been purchased by the County for conversion into permanent housing or shelter, is a significant resource for people experiencing homelessness and will undoubtedly contribute to decreasing unsheltered homelessness in San Mateo County. However, it is likely that some unsheltered individuals may still choose to live in their current locations. San Mateo County’s homeless services providers will continue to outreach and engage unsheltered individuals in the community, to build trust and encourage individuals to access services, shelter, and housing.

When will this program start?

The County conducted a Request for Proposals process in Spring 2022 and selected Samaritan House to operate shelter services at El Camino House. El Camino House will begin serving clients in Fall 2022. 

How much funding does the County of San Mateo provide to Samaritan House to operate El Camino House?

The County has contracted with Samaritan House to provide shelter services at El Camino House for $3,286,669 for a term starting on July 01, 2022, and ending on June 30, 2024

How was the hotel acquisition funded?

In December 2021, the state awarded San Mateo County a $13.5 million Homekey grant to support the purchase, rehabilitation, and operation of the Stone Villa Inn, a 44-room hotel in the City of San Mateo.  El Camino House, the shelter running out of the former Stone Villa Inn, will provide temporary shelter and services aimed at helping residents exit to permanent housing. 

What will be the impact on the City of San Mateo’s revenue?

The City of San Mateo did not fund the purchase or rehabilitation of Stone Villa Inn. The County of San Mateo will fund the ongoing maintenance and operation of El Camino House.

How will the community be involved?

Samaritan House, the operator of El Camino House, has a long history of community engagement and involvement and will engage the community around the shelter site. This includes participating in neighborhood and community meetings to promote communication between neighborhood residents, local businesses, and community agencies, and to increase community awareness to facilitate support for the operations. In addition, Samaritan House, having provided services in the San Mateo County community for over 40 years, has long-term established relationships with the local business community, school districts, faith-based communities, community-based organizations, and other key local stakeholders and will respond to any questions or concerns from neighboring businesses and residents. The County works closely with Samaritan House on all aspects of the program. Samaritan House and the County will also explore additional opportunities for community involvement, such as volunteer opportunities.

If issues occur, who can we contact?

Samaritan House and the County of San Mateo work diligently to prevent issues and address any concerns that arise. For questions about El Camino House, you may contact Laura Bent, Samaritan House Chief Operating Officer at (650) 523-0824 or You may also contact the County’s Human Services Agency Center on Homelessness at

Where can I find additional information about homelessness in San Mateo County?

Please visit to learn more about homelessness in San Mateo County and the County’s Working Together to End Homelessness initiative.