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  • Jacob Aere

Faulconer, Fletcher Urge County To Allocate $5.4 Million For Behavioral Health

Above: Beds fill a homeless shelter inside the San Diego Convention Center Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in San Diego. PHOTO BY GREGORY BULL / AP PHOTO

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Monday call for a $5.4 million adjustment to the county’s 2020-21 budget.

The funding would provide two years of on-site behavioral health care services for hundreds of San Diegans who have experienced homelessness.

If approved, the funds would support San Diego’s efforts to purchase hotels and convert the units into permanent housing for those without a home.

San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward, chair of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH), and San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) Executive Vice President Jeff Davis were also there advocating for the funding.

Faulconer and Ward have been working with housing commission on transition plans for the individuals staying at the convention center.

Earlier this month, the San Diego Housing Commission applied for $37.7 million in state funding through "Project Homekey" to acquire two hotels that could be converted and ready for use by 340 people by the end of the year. To get that money, the county needs to fund behavioral services at the sites.

RELATED: Faulconer, Other Mayors Push State For Homeless Funding Amid Coronavirus

Fletcher said the funding is integral to find proper housing solutions for those who have experienced homelessness.

“Now it is time for the County of San Diego to step up and commit to the mental health and drug treatment services to make these housing opportunities truly work,” he said.

The first occupants of the two converted hotels would be from the shelter at the San Diego Convention Center, which has about 1,000 people.

The event center opened to the homeless in April, amid concerns that city shelters were too crowded during the coronavirus outbreak. Faulconer said he is proud of the city’s homeless solutions over the last few months, but said more work still needs to be done.

RELATED: San Diego Begins Moving Homeless From Shelters To Convention Center

“More than 400 people have been housed, and we have another 550 in the process. That's incredible, but it's just the beginning,” Faulconer said. “Our next phase of operation Shelter to Home is focused on creating more homes, permanent homes, for hundreds more.”

Faulconer sees the new housing units and healthcare services as a permanent solution to homelessness in San Diego.

“San Diego can and will exit this pandemic with fewer individuals on the street than before," he said. "And with the county’s vote tomorrow, they can have the support that will keep them housed permanently.”

The Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday to discuss and approve the county’s $6.4-billion budget, including the proposed on-site health care services.

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