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San Diego city and county partner on $25M behavioral health impact fund for service providers

04/08/20

Read the full article by Charles T. Clark in the San Diego Union-Tribune here.

San Diego County supervisors gave final approval Tuesday to an agreement reached with the City of San Diego to establish a $25 million behavioral health impact fund, which will pay for capital projects for mental health and substance abuse service providers.

The agreement gives service providers in San Diego the chance to seek a one-time capital investment they could use to buy, renovate or expand a building. The capital projects must expand the capacity of organizations to provide long-term treatment, supervisors said.

The fund, which after a heated discussion received unanimous approval, is financed using former redevelopment funds that had been locked up in litigation between San Diego County and several cities in the region —including the City of San Diego — since former Gov. Jerry Brown shut down the state Redevelopment Agency in 2011.

The Redevelopment Agency and its affiliated groups were forced to divest, and debate emerged between counties and cities throughout California over who was entitled to the agency’s remaining funds. In San Diego County the related legal dispute between the county and several cities over about $80 million went in favor of the cities in trial court but is now in appellate court.

With the new agreement, which has been approved by the San Diego mayor and city council, the city and county commit to putting a portion of the disputed funds toward behavioral health services regardless of the ultimate outcome of the litigation.

Supervisor Greg Cox, who helped broker the deal along with Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, said the fund will help those on the frontlines who serve the most vulnerable in the community. It comes as the region’s behavioral health care services are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.