County Supervisors Approve Plan To Spend $650 Million In Federal COVID Relief Money
It would be easy and understandable to think that we’re basically done with COVID-19 next Wednesday when the state’s tier system of health restrictions expires. But the damage done to lives, to livelihoods will linger.
On Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has approved a draft plan for spending nearly $650 million in American Rescue Act Plan funding, with an emphasis on helping those residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No one deserves to be homeless, no one deserves to be struggling, no one," said Mia Roseberry, who co-founded and runs Wounded Warrior Homes, based in San Marcos.
“We provide transitional housing and reintegrative support services for post 9/11 veterans with traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress."
As with so many nonprofits, Roseberry said she could use more financial help, especially when it comes to helping veterans experiencing homelessness.
"Somewhere between 20 and 25% of the homeless are veterans in San Diego," she said. "So, a significant funding from the County with regard to housing would always be very helpful to, like I said, for helping us to plan for long-range funding."
The lion’s share of the money, $307.5 million, would go to costs already incurred from the pandemic and money to deal with it into the future.
Homeless services, small business, infrastructure, mental health and “premium pay” for county workers who stayed on the job during the crisis would all get assistance.
“A lot of small businesses still need cash support so that they can pay their employees, pay their rent," said San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce president & CEO Jerry Sanders.
Though the Chamber of Commerce represents many types of businesses, Sanders said restaurants are among the hardest hit. Many shelled out thousands to build outdoor dining spaces, and with the on again, off again closures, purchasing food was a vexing proposition.
“They wouldn’t know whether to buy it or not and they’d have to just take a chance and buy it and sometimes they would end up just throwing it away," Sanders said.
Supervisor Joel Anderson opposed the premium pay portion of the money for essential county employees. Overall, Chairman Nathan Fletcher said the help should be coming soon.
“Our hope is by summer folks will be able to benefit from those programs," he said.
Programs that represent a big forward step in helping the people of this county recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.