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CHAIR FLETCHER CALLS CARE COURT & $10M OF GRANT FUNDING FOR SHELTERS ‘NEW TOOLS’ TO FIGHT THE CRISES OF HOMELESSNESS, MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

05/23/22

 

The County of San Diego under the leadership of San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher is continuing its unprecedented commitment to put more resources into addressing the region's mental health, substance abuse and homelessness crisis.   

On Tuesday, May 24, the Board will vote on a policy introduced by Chair Fletcher and Vice Chair Nora Vargas to support Governor Gavin Newsom’s CARE Court proposal. The Board will also vote on more funding to address youth homelessness and support harm reduction shelters; and to make $10 million in grant money available for the 18 incorporated cities to open homeless shelters in their community. 

“Poverty is a root cause of homelessness; and when compounded by people’s struggles with mental health, substance abuse and recent hardships, it is not surprising that the numbers of unsheltered living in our communities is rising,” said Chair Fletcher. “This is why we must do more than ever before and be bold enough to try new tactics. It is up to all of us – every government agency, non-profit, and individual to determine the actions they can take to be a part of the solution. 

“The County is stepping up its support of cities and is continuing to deliver mental health and substance abuse treatment, and housing programs for adults and youth, but we also need new tools; that is why I support Governor Gavin Newsom’s CARE Court. We need to embrace this new tool, and use it to help address this growing crisis.”

The CARE Court policy by Chair Fletcher and Vice Chair Vargas calls for the County of San Diego to actively support the Governor’s CARE Court framework that counties will have to administer when the law passes. Their policy also will ensure the County supports CARE Court and activates county staff to advocate for adequate funding and implementation, clearly defined eligibility standards, and coordination around housing needs.

“We continue to see the need to support the mental health of our unsheltered population in San Diego county. I have dedicated nearly 30 years of my life advocating for access to quality healthcare, and CARE Court will be a viable solution that will allow us to ensure that those struggling with severe mental health and experiencing homelessness receive the treatment and services they deserve to be healthy,” said Vice Chair Vargas. “It's time to take action and support Governor Newsom's bold and innovative vision to find solutions for this crisis impacting our communities for far too long.”

$10 Million for Cities To Create New Shelters      

Chair Fletcher first announced the $10 million in one-time funding  grants to transform properties in their cities into new shelters, safe parking, safe camping, and tiny homes during his 2022 State of San Diego County Address. If the Board approves the policy, the County will send a notification to all 18 city jurisdictions, commencing the funding opportunity. The parameters for the funding will be as follows:

  • Multiple projects may be submitted by each city municipality, but each will be evaluated independently. 

  • Applications will be accepted during a 30 day period. 

  • Notification of awards is anticipated to occur approximately 30 days after the application period closes. 

  • Additional application periods will be opened until all funds are expended. 

  • Proposed projects with the earliest operational date will be prioritized first.

Projects will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Readiness

    • Projects with the earliest operational date will be prioritized first.

    • Additionally, construction/shovel readiness (including site control) and financial readiness is important to ensure timeliness of project.  

  • City Council and Community Approval

    • Strong local support for the project would be needed to ensure limited barriers to implementation.  

  • Need

    • May be demonstrated through a combination of factors, including but not limited to, the number of individuals to be served, type of service, Point-in-Time Count number relative to the population within the city, geographic location, healthy places index and others. 

    • Lack or gap of existing internal/external funding or inadequate existing funding for the creation of emergency housing solutions within their respective city.  

  • Sustainability of Operations

    • Must show that a project can be sustained long term after funds are spent. City must demonstrate the operations of the emergency shelter solutions can be sustained for at least two (2) years, and it is encouraged that any subsequent use of the facility will be aligned with a homelessness solution. 

Chair Fletcher, during his 2022 State of San Diego County Address and as part of the County’s proposed 2022-23 budget, has demonstrated a historic commitment to joining cities and other regional partners in addressing homelessness. For example: 

  • Activating a Standard Memorandum of Agreement with cities for the County to provide Behavioral Health, Medical Screening and Sufficiency Services for homeless individuals (Read More),  

  • Placing a low barrier 150 person shelter on County Property in the Midway District in partnership with the Lucky Duck Foundation and the City of San Diego (Watch More), 

  • Use $12.8 million in HHAP funds to support the County’s Housing Our Youth (HOY) program to support homelessness prevention and intervention activities for youth and young adults (Read More), 

  • The proposed budget for Behavioral Health Services is the largest in County history, an increase of 8.8% over FY 21/22 (Read More), and 

Funds in the budget to support Mobile Crisis Response Teams, made up of mental health experts rather than law enforcement, to respond to someone in crisis (Read More).