Behavioral health worker training program among proposals for share of $80 million ‘evergreen’ fund

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Article by Paul Sisson  |  Read full article in the San Diego Union-Tribune

Another recuperative care center for unhoused residents and a new training initiative for local behavioral health workers are initiatives under consideration for quick action by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors next week.

These are among seven proposals that would share $80 million in “evergreen” federal funding that remains of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The idea was to use this cash to seed investments that would create “self-sustaining revenue sources, or that draw down and leverage external matching funds.”

A special budget subcommittee that included Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer was tasked with pulling together proposals for this last bit of federal cash, a relatively small portion of the $653 million received from the government’s $2 trillion pandemic-era spending program.

To be taken up at the board’s next regular meeting on Jan. 9, Lawson-Remer’s request comes shortly after she was one of two no votes on delaying the implementation of Senate Bill 43, a new California law that many hospital administrators protested loudly would inundate emergency departments by increasing the number of homeless residents picked up on “5150” holds under suspicion of being a danger to themselves or others or gravely disabled.

On Dec. 5, supervisors delayed SB 43 implementation for one year though Lawson-Remer asked her colleagues to instead put the new law into motion”as soon as possible” rather than waiting until the first day 0f 2025.

Though there is still a lot of collaborative work to do between local government and health care providers to determine how SB 43 can be implemented without crashing emergency departments, the supervisor said in a recent interview that she believes there is no good reason to wait on some items.

“If we hem and haw and wait around for everyone to come back with a plan in a year, then it’s going to be like another year until we have the beds, and we already know we need them now,” Lawson-Remer said. “At least then, by the time we reach implementation, we’ve already gotten ahead of the game and increased bed capacity.”

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