San Diego County monitors are considering a $ 2.75 billion spending plan on health, homelessness and social services that would add new behavioral health services, fund homeless shelters and develop affordable housing.
The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency’s spending includes the largest portion of the county’s $ 7.15 billion budget for the next fiscal year beginning July 1.
The agency is expected to see a slight drop in spending next year, from $ 2.84 billion to $ 2.78 billion due to the elimination of the temporary expenditure of COVID-19, according to budget figures presented by the Director of Health and Human Services. Nick Macchione.
Programs that would reduce funding last year include Public Health Services, Housing and Community Development Services, and Aging and Independence Services, as well as administrative support.
Although Housing and Community Development would have a reduction in funding, much of it comes from the expiration of COVID-19 housing assistance and the completion of housing projects this year, according to the budget plan. Next year’s budget would add new investment to increase affordable housing and reduce homelessness, Council Chairman Nathan Fletcher said.
“In this year’s budget, we’re doing more than ever to tackle homelessness, including helping to open new shelters for the 18 cities that included $ 10 million,” Fletcher said in a video on the draft budget. “Next year, the council will open eight affordable homes, a record for any year in the region’s history, which means more than 1,000 people will have access to affordable housing.”
The county is adding funding and staffing to departments that provide behavioral health care, medical services, child welfare services, public assistance and homelessness programs, officials said.
“Even though the Health and Human Services Agency is slashing its budget to reduce the cost of a single pandemic, the county is still making long-term investments in mental health, substance use support, essential food and health services and efforts to reduce homelessness. Increase cheap housing.” said Ebony Shelton Chief Financial Officer.
Under the proposed spending plan, the Behavioral Health Service, which includes mental health care and treatment for substance abuse, would increase from about $ 818 million to $ 889 million. It would also add 94 employees.
The department plans to expand services for people without access to care, including children and youth, the homeless and those in the criminal justice system, officials said. It will add programs for LGBTQ youth and include mental health exams for middle school students, and expand a network of mobile crisis response teams that send mental health professionals to nonviolent emergencies, said director Luke Bergman.
According to the department’s new budget, mental health services would increase by about $ 495 million to nearly $ 554 million. Funding for inpatient mental health care and alcohol and drug services would also be increased.
The proposed budget for the Department of Public Health Services would be reduced by more than 40 percent, from $ 378 million to $ 216 million, according to Macchione. Therefore, it is due to the elimination of the temporary pandemic expenditure and the transfer of certain charges and functions to the new Department of Medical Care Services.
However, she added 71 new positions for maternal and child health, HIV and STD prevention, and disease care programs, among others, said director Elizabeth Hernandez.
Regional spending on food, health insurance and subsidy programs would increase spending by about $ 612 million to $ 629 million and add 119 new employees. Child Welfare Services would increase from $ 416 million to $ 431 million and hire 99 employees. Homeless Solutions and the Equity Community would grow from $ 48 million to $ 52.8 million.
It was previously designated as a separate department of public health care, nursing and pharmaceutical operations, the Medi-Cal program, and a separate department of health care supervision within the criminal justice system. According to the proposed budget, the newly created department would have a budget of 41.6 million euros 222 employees.
As several pandemic programs are projected to reduce or eliminate the overall spending of the Health and Human Services Agency, some elements of pandemic health care will be approved in the long term, Macchione said.
The success of community health workers or promoters promoting testing and vaccinations has led health authorities to continue with that work through permanent jobs, he said.
“Building on the good practices of COVID-19’s response, using promoters with the commitment of our community, we have just created 12 jobs for community health workers to support various neighborhood-based health education and health promotion services.” he said.