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San Diego County OKs $10M to help homeless, mentally ill
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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Responding to a rise in homelessness across the region, San Diego County supervisors have approved spending another $10 million on housing for people with mental illnesses as they complete treatment and rehabilitation programs.

The new funding is in addition to $33 million the county has already spent on housing units for homeless people with mental illness, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Wednesday.

Jeffrey Najarian, a behavioral health provider at Recovery Innovations, said that secure housing is a priority for people with mental illnesses who are trying to get back on their feet.

“The number one concern that has come forward month after month is housing,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors approved the spending 4-0 with Supervisor Ron Roberts absent.

The money comes through from the state under the Mental Health Services Act. In order to receive funding, counties, with input from the community, create three-year plans for spending the funds. There are twelve meetings scheduled throughout the county in October where members of the public can share their perspective on mental health and drug and alcohol services.

So far the county has provided 241 housing units for homeless people with mental health problems, and the additional $10 million is expected to help even more, said Alfredo Aguirre, the director of the county’s Behavioral Health Services department.

A January count of the homeless in San Diego County found that there were more than 8,700 people living on the street or in shelters — a 2.8 percent increase from the year prior.

The number of homeless people is down 3.1 percent from 2011, the newspaper said.