County Adopts Budget Focusing on Critical Needs

Video by James Kecskes
County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar and Supervisor Ron Roberts talked to reporters Tuesday shortly before the board adopted a record-setting County budget.

The County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to adopt a revised recommended budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Tuesday’s action means the budget for the upcoming year will increase $484.5 million, or 8.4 percent, over the current year for a total of $6.27 billion.

Helping the homeless and those with substance abuse and mental health issues are among the areas seeing most significant increases under the balanced budget plan. The new budget also emphasizes breaking barriers for people leaving the criminal justice system, addresses the affordable housing crisis, the quality of life in neighborhoods and protects natural resources. The budget retains or improves current levels of service to the County’s residents.

The budget was released to the public May 8 and formally presented to the Board on June 13. Budget hearings followed and concluded June 20.

More than $175 million and 120 new jobs will be dedicated to meeting the needs of our most vulnerable residents, including those at risk or experiencing homelessness. A record high of more than $650 million will go toward behavioral health services.

That means funding for individualized drug and alcohol treatment programs will triple. The County will put $1 million into domestic violence response teams and mobile family trauma services. Funding continues for Project One for All, a program that has housed and treated more than 600 homeless people with severe mental illness.

The budget will fund 50 Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams and the County’s Whole Person Wellness program which aims to help 1,000 homeless Medi-Cal patients who cycle in and out of emergency rooms.

The County will continue providing public health, behavioral health and self-sufficiency services at the City of San Diego’s three tent shelters. The budget also calls for 12 additional public health nurses to address public health priorities.

Every year, 80,000 adults are booked into the County jails, and on any given day about a third of the population in custody receives mental health care. The budget will add mental health clinicians and discharge planners to the jails so those leaving the system have a better chance to succeed in the community.

Probation will see nearly $3 million for additional re-entry services. The department will issue transit passes to probationers so they can get to work or locations with needed services. Eight new staff positions will help the Public Defender’s Office clear convictions for human trafficking victims involved with separate offenses and help clients struggling with addiction.

The budget also provides an additional $7.6 million for an array of wraparound and other services for youth. Those services include mentoring, family therapy and help finding work. More kids in the juvenile justice system will get a chance to join the Alternatives to Detention program.

To address the affordable housing crisis, the County will use the $25 million Innovative Housing Trust Fund approved last year as well as surplus County property to develop homes for seniors, veterans and other vulnerable people. This is expected to create 400 to 600 new affordable housing units for low-income residents or people with special needs.

The plan sets aside funds to begin updating 15 community plans in the unincorporated area to expand housing options for residents of all income levels. The County will also cut costs and permit processing times to boost housing stock for middle-income households.

The County is investing in infrastructure too. A new Live Well Center will serve communities in southeastern San Diego. The current Health Services complex at Rosecrans and Pacific Highway will transform into a County Live Well Campus, complete with an assessment center and transitional housing. Both locations will offer a one-stop location for public assistance and veteran benefits, health, behavioral health and employment services. The Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility will be redeveloped into a Juvenile Justice Campus.

In the unincorporated area, residents will see new libraries, additional sidewalks and repairs to 180 miles of roads. New or improved fire stations will guard against the ongoing threat of wildfires in the backcountry, and more parks and trails will give all residents more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Another 500 acres of open space will help preserve the region’s natural beauty.

The County’s budget is designed to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, as well as maintain prudent reserves and its AAA credit rating. You can learn more at this site: recommended operational plan.

Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact