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Post-Pandemic Public Health Funding: ‘Now Is Absolutely The Opportunity’

 July 6, 2021 at 2:31 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:01 What the pandemic has taught San Diego about public health. Speaker 2: 00:04 We have another crisis going on. The homeless crisis will be getting this, the mental health crisis for the beginning. Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann. This is KPBS mid-day edition. This year's county budget is funding, ongoing pandemic recovery, Speaker 3: 00:29 But we also are doubling down on a number of programs that I think have been too long overdue Speaker 1: 00:38 A Carlsbad resident as the first indigenous woman to be appointed to the state women's commission. And we'll hear how songs and stories help increase Latino vaccination rates. That's ahead on midday edition. First venues, even with vaccination rates climbing the battle against COVID-19 goes on Los Angeles has just seen a spike in cases fueled by the Delta variant and hospitalization rates among black Angelenos have also been on the rise. The pandemic continues to reveal gaps and inequalities in our critical care system. Advocates who have long been calling for increased funding for public health departments say now is the time to seize on an influx of pandemic funding because it won't be there forever. KPBS health reporter. Matt Hoffman spoke about this with San Diego county health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten and health and human services agency, director, Nick meshy, own Speaker 4: 01:42 Pre pandemic. I mean, would you guys say that you guys were underfunded by the state or what was it like before the pandemic even happened? Well, absolutely. Speaker 5: 01:49 I'll help departments across the nation before the pandemic and it things differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in general, um, the topic of the underfunding of public health is decades old Speaker 2: 02:04 Tragically public health funding is more episodic. It is when, when there's a crisis, then funding will flow versus using our adage in public health prevention, investing the dollars and building the infrastructure. I don't think there's any community across this country that would say they have the adequacy of their public health infrastructure. Speaker 4: 02:26 And like, what's like the real world impact on that. Like it's like pre pandemic, like, cause there's some things that you guys can't do that you wanted to do, or like, how was it, how does that budget, um, not increasing effect your guys's ability to control public health in the county? Speaker 2: 02:38 You know, we're different in San Diego and that we take a very holistic approach to the wellbeing of 3.4 million. So we look at the social drivers for health. We'll look at the issues around housing and public health will look at where recently in harm reduction, the interplay between behavioral health and public health. And we're an integrated in terms of how we operate, but how we bring our community together. Unfortunately, when you talk about public health funding, uh, th th it's the fidelity to the public health topic. So the funding streams come, but it's focused on dealing with a Bola or it's focused on childhood obesity or lead poisoning. And, and the reality is all these things kind of come together in a community. And so we have to harmonize the funding on all these sources and then look where there's gaps and kind of go after funding. And that's just the sad reality of how public health operates in this country. Speaker 4: 03:35 And then you talk about like, um, kind of funding being like reactive. So then the pandemic hits and I know supervisor Fletcher was talking about like, like the counties that a good financial position, but that they might've had to spend a ton of ton of money, which you guys it's been a ton of money, but like what, what was the influx of cash that eventually came to you guys? I mean, were you worried that there wasn't going to be this like influx of cash? And then when you did it, when you got that money, it was at to pay existing bills. Is that to build more infrastructure, kind of, how did Speaker 2: 03:58 That work? Uh, this county is financially healthy and strong, uh, and the funds weren't coming down yet from the state. So our charge and we gave to our team was do what's right to protect the public's health. Now, when we stood up T3, if you remember, that was the, you know, you almost got it right. Testing, chasing, and treating, right. That was, uh, from the stimulus money that was over a hundred million dollars. And that's it as far exceeded cause then we did vaccinations. Right? So the idea here was, had we not made the investment, we would have had far worse outcomes, I think in our county, for sure, but across the country or our state, I should say. And so we, we quickly realized that we had to not just get the type of resources met, but they had to be in the right investment for the right interventions because timing was critical. Speaker 4: 04:50 And then you guys had a big, big scale up. And not only in terms of like hiring staff, like we talked about contact tracers doing these testing sites in the vaccination sites, which came later. But I remember we were talking too about, you guys were trying when, when the testing push was going on, didn't have the infrastructure to do all the testing and there was a backlog on the equipment for that. So it seems like you guys have scaled up quite a bit. Are you guys on a scale down now in terms of shrinking back or cause I know, um, that the American rescue plan was passed, which gave some more dollars for you guys. And some people say that, you know, the, that, that the health department are doing fine now, but you guys are going to be scaling back down operations or is there a hope that you can keep, you know, uh, at a higher level of, of staffing and all that? Or how does that kind of play out? What Speaker 5: 05:27 We've, we're scaling down, uh, based on the need is not just, uh, a process that is, uh, operatory looking at the data, our total number of daily cases in our case rate, uh, is, are coming down. So we are looking at the staffing that's involved. How can those staff now go back to their prior, um, responsibilities, but also how can we glide slope testing and vaccinations back to our public health centers. Uh, but we address the needs that are in front of us. And that way we can decrease the number of staffing involved, decrease the number of locations where testing and vaccinations. Speaker 2: 06:11 Yeah. He's given it another example to that. Our county nurses were the ones the very first, uh, testing was our county nurses, uh, right out of Rosecrans. And then you saw it when we went up to the old Qualcomm side and then we really developed a whole ecosystem right. Of the testing. And then the same group that was doing vaccinations. Well, we have another crisis going on now, the homeless crisis, we're beginning to see the mental health crisis. We're beginning to see this is the consequences of the, of the pandemic. And so it's, it's not that we're scaling glide sloping down and correct to the need. It is also because we need to then reallocate those nurses to help on homelessness, those nurses, to help with those children and in home visits that we need to get back to there's other needs that were put on pause and then other things that are beginning to rise, unfortunately. And so we're, again, we're public health goes into action is where the need is immediately shifting those resources. And Speaker 4: 07:09 I know some people say that like now is like a better time than ever for these health department to try to ask for funding. Do you guys think that that's the case, or do you think, like you have a window of opportunity now to where that's changed, you know, state lawmakers, minds, or federal lawmakers minds. I know you guys have a lobbying arm here at the county, but do you think like now is the, is the opportunity so to speak or, oh, absolutely. Speaker 5: 07:27 Now is the opportunity. And there's a lot of efforts going on at the national as well as the state, uh, level to look at the future of public health. Speaker 4: 07:37 And then, uh, this might not be an easy answer, but what's, what's the best case scenario. Like, you know, uh, the, the governor says here's a blank check. What do you need? W w w what, what would you guys ask for? Speaker 2: 07:45 What do you, if we had the blank check, we would both agree that it's really the social drivers of social determinants of health. You know, we were ending a pandemic with COVID-19, but there's another pandemic we've been dealing with and that's the health inequities, and it is a pandemic. And COVID-19 just put the shine, the light on it, to see how different parts of our county, different parts of our state, that parts of our nation we're living. And some of them were not living well. And it's no surprise when you have overcrowding or people that were not in any type of shelter. It was no surprise when people did not have a food security or a job. And therefore, if they were sick, had to go to work or were, felt forced to go to work because they had no ability to take care of their family. And those were enablers, um, unfortunately of spread of viral spread. So when we really want to look at a root cause if you really want to, um, address, uh, some of the things we keep talking about and having people live longer and happier and healthier lives, it's those social determinants. So it's housing, it's helping people with jobs. So those are things that you don't think about it in the realm of public health, but if you were to address that you would really improve the public's health. Speaker 4: 09:05 And then the only other question I have is, do you think that, like, whether it be like we were talking about state lawmakers, the federal government, you think they'll be receptive to the calls for more funding? I mean, it sounds like the call has been going on for a long time and there's been no response, but like you said, after nine 11, a lot of stuff changed. Do you think that there'll be receptive to your messaging? I can't Speaker 5: 09:20 Say that there's been no response because about a year and a half ago, the state did allocate funding to jurisdictions to support public health needs, infrastructural needs. So that was about a year and a half, two years ago. Again, right now what the governor's doing is evaluating what the needs are, which I think is a practical, uh, next step. But we want to see outcomes from that and funding allocated to a specific public health needs, uh, after the assessment is completed. Speaker 2: 09:52 Yeah. I don't think there's any way going back. Uh, when, when, and I, and I really applaud the governor when two, the administration released the healthy places index in the summer, and that is a difficult conversation to have in the midst of the pandemic. The say, and these are areas where people historically have not been thriving, and they did that with the intent of, we have to race and go in those areas. Now, fortunately for us, we were already going in those areas, the south bay saturation strategy for testing and what we were already moving eventually into, into vaccination. But now we have that on the table. And so that's going to be an ongoing conversation. And, you know, we have an old adage. You can only live well when you all live well. And so if parts of our county are not living well, there is no other way you're going to live well, because if there's an outbreak here, it impacts here. So I think now with the healthy places index and talking about health equity and how this board of supervisors has embraced racism as a public health crisis and health equity, the heart of that, at least in San Diego, second largest county in the county, and the state is going to continue to elevate that to the S you know, to the state itself. And I don't think we're alone. That was San Diego Speaker 1: 11:08 County health and human services agency, director, Nick [inaudible] and health officer, Dr. Wilma Wootton speaking with KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, Speaker 6: 11:26 San Diego county supervisors approved a $7.2 billion budget last week. It includes funding for public health, mental health services, and the pandemic recovery this year, the county budget also includes more than half a billion dollars. It received in federal aid, KPBS reporter, Andrew Bowen spoke with county supervisor Terra Lawson Riemer to discuss what's in the county's budget and why this Speaker 7: 11:50 Is the first budget that county has approved since the, of supervisors became majority Democrat. Of course, you're a part of that democratic majority. How do you see that new political dynamic reflected in the county's spending Speaker 3: 12:02 It's a night and day? Uh, we have a budget for the first time in a generation that really looks to invest in San Diego families, San Diego, community, San Diego businesses, to be there for our community when our community needs the county the most, um, and looking at all the places in ways that we can support our economy locally, uh, get back on track, um, in the wake of the pandemic, as well as address the massive health impacts of the pandemic Speaker 7: 12:33 Nobody's health and human services agency makes up the largest portion of the budget, and it always does. And it also saw the largest increase compared to the original budget proposal from about two months ago, whereas all of this new money going. Speaker 3: 12:47 So there's a number of initiatives. Um, so obviously our first priority, um, it remains addressing the pandemic. Um, you know, we still have to continue our vaccination efforts, um, but there's also a number of businesses and, and renters and landlords and workers whose, uh, economic lives have been really devastated over the last stuff, 15, 16 months. Um, so we have a lot of programs to help working families, to help businesses get back on their feet, including a small business stimulus grant program and rental assistance, food assistance, you know, just a range of, of really vital programs, uh, to help out our community at this, at this difficult time. But we also are doubling down on a number of programs that I think have been, um, too long overdue. Uh, one of them is, um, the mobile crisis response teams, which looks to bring an alternative to armed law enforcement. Speaker 3: 13:42 Uh, when you have a homeless person or someone experiencing a mental health crisis, we know that, uh, when you, when you car call our law enforcement too often, the results are really tragic in those circumstances. So we've rolled out something called the mobile crisis response teams, so that we have an alternative to our, our law enforcement in those kinds of situations. Uh, we're also looking at increasing investments in our foster care system and foster youth and supporting, uh, as well, our homeless population too, and our unhoused population to get the services and support that they need to get back on their feet. Um, so, so we're really looking at how we invest in addressing some of the root causes of the challenges that, um, a lot of people for far too long have experienced in San Diego county. And, um, you know, now we finally have a trans to turn things around KPBS Speaker 7: 14:34 Spoke recently with county public health officer Wilma Wooten, and the health and human services agency, director, Nick mashy, Owen. And they said that public health departments across the nation have been underfunded for decades. Now in light of the county's experience with COVID-19 will increased funding for public health, be ongoing. And is it sustainable? Speaker 3: 14:56 Uh, most of the, I think most vital increases in our, uh, public health funding are going to be sustainable. I mean, there's certainly some portion that is looking to cover these one-time expenses for, for COVID. Uh, and most of that's been covered by funds receive, uh, from the federal government. Uh, but in terms of our, our ongoing investments, you know, this is certainly one of my priorities. I know it's a priority of my colleagues on the board and, um, there's, there's definitely funding throughout the budget for that, or that's long-term investments. And, you know, there's nothing that is a better demonstration of a longterm investment than when you hire people who are going to be around to do the job, to serve our community. So we have hundreds of new positions in mental health, behavioral health, and public health, and in the kinds of jobs that are on the front lines of any kind of future pandemic response. And so this is a long-term staffing investment to ensure that we have the resources, the people, the expertise in house, um, to better serve our community. The county Speaker 7: 15:58 Received more than half a billion dollars from president Biden's American rescue plan act, but the county didn't even spend all of the money that it had budgeted for in the last fiscal year. There's this sort of carry over balance that you're including in this next fiscal year's budget. Did the county really need this big infusion of cash from the federal government? Well, Speaker 3: 16:18 I'm talking to the constituents day in, day out and people, you know, people are hurting. Um, one of the things I'm most proud of in this budget is our small business stimulus grants program. Um, and I'll tell you out in my community, um, there are just so many businesses, who've put their life savings into starting, starting their business, and we're doing well. Uh, but just getting by and the pandemic has just put them under water, um, and being able to help these small businesses that are really the linchpin of our local economy get back on their feet is absolutely vital. I don't think anyone would ever say that, that we don't need those resources. I mean, similarly, I've been speaking to landlords whose tenants haven't been able to pay rent and tenants who haven't been able to pay rent because they've lost jobs and livelihoods or family members due to COVID. Speaker 3: 17:03 And the resources that we have received from the federal government are absolutely vital to helping those people as well, get back on their feet, so that as we come out of COVID on the other side, that we can move forward, um, and leave this really dark time behind us and not, you know, not be pulled down in debt for the rest of people's lives. Uh, so I think on the economic front, there's no doubt that it's been incredibly important. Um, also there's a lot, a huge need. Um, that's been revealed and exist in our community for a long time, but, you know, became really real to many families, um, during COVID the need for better support for childcare and childcare for working families and childcare for working moms in particular. Um, so that's another place that we're going to be in that this budget, um, really doubles down, invest. So in my opinion, I mean, honestly, I wish we could do more, you know, I think the budget, the budget does a good job, but, you know, we have a lot of needs in our community and a need to invest in order to grow our economy and also, you know, address some of the deep inequities and injustices that people have experienced San Diego Speaker 7: 18:09 Mayor, Todd Gloria faced backlash from some Progressive's for his increase to the city's police budget. Now the San Diego county Sheriff's department has an even bigger budget than the city's police department. And the Sheriff's budget is also going up. Why does the Sheriff's department need more money Speaker 3: 18:27 From my point of view, um, you know, taking a careful look at the Sheriff's budget and looking to right-size that budget, um, in the future is a, is a top priority. This, uh, this increase is important because it's an investment in particularly mineral and behavioral health, uh, workers and nurses for our county jails, which have been radically understaffed for a very long time. Certainly one of my priorities, I think the priorities I share with my colleagues is to do everything we can to address these, uh, terrible tragedies in our county jails, um, that have resulted in large part because of understaffing and, um, lack of adequate services. So the increased budget for the sheriffs is really looking at, um, increasing the services in our county jails for, um, mental health issues and to try to make sure that these tragedies don't happen again. Um, there's also some additional funds there, um, for juvenile rehabilitation programs. And I know that as I think about where the future of, of what I hope to see police and sheriff department look like in San Diego county, you know, definitely increasing our support for alternatives to incarceration and juvenile, um, rehabilitation in particular is a, is a big priority. And, and those programs take resources. Speaker 7: 19:46 I've been speaking with San Diego county supervisor, Terra, Lawson, reamer and supervisor. Thanks for joining Speaker 3: 19:52 Us. Thank you, Andrew. Speaker 6: 19:54 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. For the first time an indigenous woman has been appointed to join California's commission on the status of women and girls. Jolie Proudfit is Louis [inaudible]. She has been department chair of American Indian studies and director of the California Indian culture and sovereignty center at California state university, San Marco, since 2008. And professor Proudfit joins me now. Welcome. Speaker 3: 20:24 Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here Speaker 6: 20:27 First. What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to represent indigenous women on the state commission? Speaker 3: 20:34 Well, anytime I have the opportunity to be in uplifting or amplify, the voices of made of peoples, and in this case, native women and girls, it means much, it means so much because you know, for so long and far too long, the invisibility and the erasure of native peoples and especially native women and girls has been the norm. And so I'm excited to not only have a seat at the table, but have an opportunity to work with other women to help shape policy, to better the lives of all women in California. And for my focus, especially that of indigenous women and girls. Speaker 6: 21:15 Yeah. If you're confirmed by the state Senate, how do you see your role on the commission bringing attention to issues that impact indigenous women and girls? Speaker 3: 21:24 Well, first and foremost, just having me present is bringing forward that we are still here, that we are visible, that we are present, that we are in many cases, thriving and other cases, we have, um, issues of inequities that we must address. But the fact that my very presence means that our existence is, is key to being able to address the issues affecting indigenous women and girls, and also to highlight, um, and honor the resilience and the beauty and the successes of indigenous women to share with others. So I just think my, you know, having me as a part of this commission is an opportunity to engage, to learn, to listen, um, but ultimately make positive change for all of California's women. And especially that of indigenous women and girls, you Speaker 6: 22:20 Mentioned being able to raise awareness about the presence and the contributions of native women and girls in this state. Can you tell me more about that? Speaker 3: 22:28 Yes. I think it's critical to not just focus on the inequities and what's wrong with, um, the issues affecting indigenous women and girls, but to amplify the native joy, the successes, the contributions of indigenous women. And there are many we're leading in so many capacities and in governance and leadership, we have Deb Helen. Now who's the first indigenous person to have a cabinet level appointment. She's our secretary of the interior. We have indigenous women who are leaders in all areas of tribal governance. We have Digitas women who are leaders in education and media arts, um, and, um, music who are some who are on the New York times bestsellers list fashion. So I really want to showcase that as well. The contributions that indigenous women, especially California Indian women make to this great state and this economy, and as well as be able to address the inequities and the shortcomings so that all indigenous women and girls have the opportunity to live their best lives. Speaker 6: 23:35 And in addition to the joy and the contributions there, there are also those inequities that you just mentioned. Uh, we know that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people. How do you hope this commission can address the impacts of COVID 19 in indigenous communities? Speaker 3: 23:52 Well, COVID-19 underscored those inequities that we know have long since been there, and those are economic. Those are healthcare, those are educational inequities. And so we have no excuse, but to close the gap and make sure that all the women in California and especially the first peoples of California have the same opportunities to really live a self-determined life. And so I hope that we can really focus on making sure that we have the best quality health care for our women and girls, that we have the best opportunities for employment development, pay equity, you know, no native, uh, female who wants to have a business should have any, um, impediments to having a thriving business. And I firmly believe that education is a path if not the path to self-determination. And so while we have, you know, the best, uh, university systems on the planet, I believe here in California, the access and the opportunity has not been there for everyone equally. So let's make sure that our girls have the best experience K through 16 so that they can aspire and become whomever and whatever they want to do, and be good contributing factors to their tribal communities, to the state and the world at large, Speaker 6: 25:22 I, you know, murder and sexual assault impact indigenous women at higher rates than their non-native counterparts. According to research, what are some of the priority issues impacting indigenous women and girls that you want to address? Speaker 3: 25:36 Bringing attention to this issue is so critical because while we know the stats in Indian country, and we have many amazing native women and native women organizations working to address these issues, we can not do this alone. So we need to be working with our local law enforcement, our state agencies, to address these issues of violence against women perpetrators, who in the majority happened to be non-native. And as they come on to tribal lands, making sure that our native women are addressed and more importantly, making sure that our girls are having, um, the opportunity to make sure that they have a lifestyle that is protecting them from ever experience these types of issues. So it's going to take an all hands on deck approach and native women need all the help that they can get from our local partners to our local law enforcement, to our state agencies, to help address these issues of violence against native women and girls. And, you know, we live in such large state and having, um, pro uh, close proximity to the border can create many, many issues. San Diego county is home to eight reservations, eight tribal nations. And so we can do better. We should do better. And if we all work together that I think we can finally begin to tackle this issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and violence against native women. Speaker 6: 27:06 What are the biggest challenges to addressing some of these issues? Speaker 3: 27:10 In my experience, some of the biggest challenges has been that indigenous women and girls have simply been an afterthought or not even on anyone's radar. So the fact that governor Newsome has appointed me to finally serve on a commission, such as this, the ability to bring representation and visibility to these issues is already a win in my mind. And I think bringing the visibility and bringing our issues to the forefront and making sure that we always have a seat at the table will help them address these issues. Speaker 6: 27:47 I've been speaking to CSU professor Jolie Proudfit, who is the first indigenous woman appointed to California's commission on the status of women and girls, professor Proudfit. Thank you so much for joining us and congratulations to you. Thank you so much. Speaker 1: 28:06 National homelessness experts as San Diego needs to coordinate efforts among agencies and find more permanent housing solutions. If it wants to see fewer unsheltered people on the streets, those were two of 16 recommendations made after a six month assessment by consultant Matthew Doherty. The report comes as San Diego's unsheltered population is once again, increasing mayor Todd, Gloria says some of the consultants recommendations are already being implemented or are included in the new city budget. Joining me is Matthew Doherty, former executive director of the U S interagency council on homelessness and author of the new report on San Diego, homelessness strategies, and Matthew, welcome to the program. Speaker 8: 28:52 Very happy to be here. Thank you for having me many are glorious Speaker 1: 28:56 As he wanted a warts and all assessment from you on the city's approach to homelessness. So what are the warts? Speaker 8: 29:03 I think the main thing the city needs to focus on is making sure it has enough in-house capacity and expertise to be able to help drive solutions to homelessness across the city city needs to be able to do that work in partnership with the county of San Diego, with the San Diego housing commission, with the regional task force on the homeless. Uh, but historically the city has not dedicated the staff resources with the level of experience and expertise needed to be not only just an equal partner, but a really a leading partner in driving progress on that work. So that's the fundamental finding was the need to scale up expertise and capacity within the, which will then allow the city to help build strategies and programs that can drive progress on homeless. You've Speaker 1: 29:47 Found that the city has relied too much on crisis management and its handling of homelessness. Can you explain what that means? Speaker 8: 29:55 What I really wanted to encourage was for the city to focus on balancing the immediate response to homelessness, which can be done through outreach can be done through emergency shelter and other crisis services to better balance that with a focus on helping people exit homelessness and get people connected to permanent housing solutions. Speaker 1: 30:15 Now, right now, a new homeless outreach effort in downtown San Diego is relying less on police and more on social workers and healthcare workers to make contact with unsheltered people. Is that part of your recommendation? Speaker 8: 30:27 That was one of my recommendations. I've worked with the partners to help think through the approach that was launched last week, and do think that as we are, as we're trying to connect with people who were experiencing the crisis, the bubbles in this, we need to lead with people who are skilled and trained and whose fundamental role is to engage with people, get to know them, help identify their challenges, help identify their goals and help create pathways for people to pursue in order to get off the streets and into, into housing that they can sustain Speaker 1: 30:57 Like concern among some homeless people, themselves, that there's an increase in violence and drug use on the streets because of a decreased law enforcement presence. Now, does that concern you? Speaker 8: 31:09 Yeah, absolutely. And public safety needs to be a fundamental priority in all of this work and for law enforcement, public safety and ensuring the safety of people who are experiencing homelessness and addressing the safety of people who are working with people experiencing homelessness should be the fundamental role of law enforcement within the system is the focus on public safety while leaving the work of helping people exit homelessness and address their challenges, letting other professionals focus on that work, but public safety needs to be paramount. And it's a paramount concern for people who are experiencing homelessness themselves. One Speaker 1: 31:40 Not surprising part of the report finds that we need more low income housing available to decrease the homeless population. Any suggestions on how we make that happen? Speaker 8: 31:50 Well, I think one of the fortunate circumstances we're in right now is that there are a lot of new federal resources. And as soon as there's a state budget and expectation that there'll be a lot of new state resources that can help create those opportunities. So the American rescue plan passed earlier this year provided resources that can be used to create permanent housing opportunities for people. The California budget will include a significant scaling up of resources into homelessness and housing programs. So right now, if with a clarity of focus and vision and the emphasis on creating permanent housing options for people right now is a good time because they're going to be resources that are available to make that happen. A lot Speaker 1: 32:28 Of this report has to do with creating new city positions to coordinate homeless efforts. And some might see this as just creating new bureaucracy. How do you see a new with new directors actually helping them make change on the city streets? Speaker 8: 32:43 So I completely understand that concern. I do think there's maybe a parallel with a, you can't put a baseball team on the field and have five players and expect to be able to deliver what you want a baseball team to deliver. And I understand the Padres are doing pretty well this year. So really the goal here is to get the city up to a baseline of having an adequate team in place that can tackle the challenge that the community is facing. Speaker 1: 33:08 And what does that adequate team consist of? Speaker 8: 33:11 For my recommendations included, I'm adding three additional positions within the city department and converting an existing position into a new director of the department position. I do want to caution that that position is not, is not thought of as a homelessness czar. It is a director of a strong team of professionals focused on ending. Homelessness also recommended the creation of a deputy director position with a special focus on interdepartmental partnerships and some of the external partnerships, the city needs to develop and manage. Um, another positions explicitly focused on unsheltered homelessness and coordinating across all of the different agencies and the actors who intersect with people who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness and a position overseeing the two existing teams within the department with a real goal of having enough senior staff who can be decision-makers, who can represent the city and a wide variety of planning, conversations, decision-making conversations and make things happen. And you need enough people on the team in order to make those kinds of things happen. And to actually start to have an impact on homelessness, how would Speaker 1: 34:11 You like to see San Diego's different city and county homeless agencies coordinate to become more effective? So Speaker 8: 34:18 This I think is another area in which there's just a great opportunity for the community. The San Diego housing commission has a team of staff with expertise and capacity. The regional task force on the homeless has been stood up in the last couple of years to play more meaning for roles across the region. The county of San Diego is, is creating its own office focused on homelessness and equitable communities. And this is the opportunity for the city to put forward its own team, to partner across those other agencies. And together, I think that's just a great opportunity to have all of the right partners in place and to start to work together in a more coordinated, collaborative way and to move towards joint and shared decision-making so that each entity isn't making decisions in isolation, but actually are, are working together to get to the best decisions during Speaker 1: 35:08 Your time on the U S inter agency council on homelessness. Have you seen other cities use the kinds of strategies that you've recommended to actually reduce homelessness? Yes. Speaker 8: 35:20 Um, and I think looking at the city, the city had one of the smallest teams focused on homelessness that I was familiar with with looking at other communities across the country. Other recommendations include a much stronger focus on data and using data to drive everyday. Decision-making so spelled out the kind of data that the mayor and his team should be focused on, on a continuous and ongoing basis. And the fundamental focus on everything we're doing should be leaving people out of homelessness, into permanent housing. And that shift to a true housing first focus is what has helped drive progress in other communities. Speaker 1: 35:57 I've been speaking with Matthew Doherty, he's author of the new report on San Diego, homelessness strategies, and Matthew, thank you very much. Speaker 8: 36:05 Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. This is Speaker 1: 36:07 KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade. Heinemann about 36% of the eligible Latino population in San Diego county is still not vaccinated in some central valley counties as much higher at more than 60% unvaccinated. The numbers are even more dramatic for younger folks, especially teens and those in their twenties and for indigenous farm workers. Now, former us poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, along with famed Dren Cherice singer Carmen, Christina Marino, and other musical groups are trying to get the word out through original songs, radio, dramas, and poems in Spanish, English, and me Stecco the California report hosts. Sasha Coca has more Speaker 9: 37:07 [inaudible] Speaker 10: 37:08 You're hearing legendary ranchera singer Garmin, Christina Morty. No, she's sometimes called the cheek Ghana first lady of song. And she composed this piece as part of a project called [inaudible] COVID. The idea is to boost vaccination rates in places like the central valley and Garmin. Christina is just one of a number of musicians and poets and actors. Who've all created original work for this project, which includes videos on social media broadcasts on Spanish language, radio, and live performances. Joining us to talk about the campaign is Amy Kitchener. She's the executive director of the Alliance for California, traditional arts and Google Morales. Who's the executive director of Ravi LynnWay, the national Latino public radio network. Hi, you guys. Hi. Hi, Sasha, let's start with one Philippe. He's a famous poet from Fresno and he's also the former poet Laureate of the United States. And he wrote an original radio drama as part of this project. Yeah, Speaker 1: 38:16 He's beautiful. [inaudible] so they are [inaudible] Speaker 10: 38:26 So we were, we were just hearing character Prudencio uh, who's, who's very, you know, he's fairly sure that he's so strong. He's like iron and like a tree, like he's not gonna need the vaccine. And so, um, you know, he's arguing with his wife about how he's strong and he doesn't need this, you know, the story it's, it's so beautiful, the way that we've seized different voices and characters in a family and different generations. Speaker 6: 39:04 Happy. I love you, but got some of Speaker 10: 39:07 The musicians involved in this effort. Speaker 9: 39:12 [inaudible] you Speaker 10: 39:12 Have a group from Bakersfield [inaudible], uh, who are pretty well known for playing in the mystical community. [inaudible], They're very popular, um, especially at social dances and one of their main forms is the Celena, you know, the archetypal, social dance music of the TECA and Wahaca. You cannot have a party without she led the music. And so Grupo, um, they have a pretty big following on YouTube, and there's also a lot of videos they've produced there from the hometown of San Juan, Luis, the pic in the hooch Lavaca district of Wahaca. And that's a really big sending town of people, um, here in the valley, especially Speaker 9: 40:14 [inaudible] Speaker 11: 40:14 One of the communities that is most vulnerable to this pandemic has been the indigenous community. Um, many, um, won't mystical myself or many of my people are field workers or many of us, including myself, or able to isolate in our home. Uh, most of these folks were not able to, I mean, none, frankly. I mean, the farm workers had to be out there, the essential workers cause they had to eat, they had to feed their families. They had to earn an income. Many of them are undocumented. So there was essentially no assistance for them. Those that are dying under the age of 50, which are numerous, are Mexican Americans and indigenous people, uh, the other big audience. So it's not over for the essential workers. Speaker 9: 41:12 [inaudible] Speaker 10: 41:12 What are the messages that people are getting about, why they shouldn't take the vaccine? Are there MIS circulating in the community or is it really just this distrust around the government? Speaker 11: 41:26 I think it happens around, you know, the gossip shall we say, and also in Facebook and other media like that, you know, unfortunately it plays on, you know, the fears, et cetera. I mean, just an example, uh, the setup program, which expanded decades from the forties up until the beginning of the sixties, part of the process of immigrating or crossing the border by these contract workers who live in poverty and were forced to economically to come to the U S when the U S was welcoming them, there was sprayed at the border with DDT, this fear of Western medicine and America is not just made up. You know, there's a history there that is very concrete. There's a Speaker 10: 42:09 Lyric in a song by another group. [inaudible] that plan led by Leonel Mendoza, where they talk about exactly some of these concerns and really share the message that the vaccine is not going to hurt. [inaudible] ARPA grandad group, uh, from the [inaudible] region of Mexico, but they, um, they're they live in Marset and Modesto. And when we talked about what kind of song would they compose for this lay on L immediately said, oh, well, we should, we should use the form of value Speaker 9: 43:07 [inaudible]. Um, and I Speaker 10: 43:08 Said, well, what's up Alona? And he said, well, this is one of our traditional forms. It's like lyric poetry. And we use it for expressing social concerns. You know, he, he thought it was really important to use the very traditional form from his area, because it was a way to call his community into action. You know, he said, when, when people hear the Valona, they know I'm talking to them, Speaker 9: 43:41 [inaudible], [inaudible] equally flawed. Speaker 10: 43:51 This was part of the performances that we did out at the Madeira flea market on a Sunday, a Speaker 9: 43:57 Few weeks ago, [inaudible], Speaker 10: 44:06 It's dedicated to farm workers. Um, it's by, you know, one for the bay who is the child of farm workers. And it's really a, like a love poem of spending so many years together. I want you to be by my side and it's about the promises, um, and the joys of family and community that await us. If we can get vaccinated. Speaker 9: 44:36 [inaudible] [inaudible], Speaker 10: 44:46 [inaudible] Amy Kitchener, executive director of the Alliance for California, traditional arts, talking about their project active on the contract. COVID thank you both. So thank you. Thank you, Sasha. Speaker 1: 45:03 That was the California report magazine host, Sasha cook.

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Substantial, long-term funding has eluded local public health departments and with a spotlight on the pandemic, some argue now is the time to change that. Then, San Diego County supervisors last week approved a $7.2 billion budget with funding for mental health services and the pandemic recovery. And for the first time, an Indigenous woman has been appointed to serve on California’s Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. Plus, a national homelessness expert says San Diego needs to coordinate efforts among agencies and find more permanent housing solutions if it wants to see fewer unsheltered people on the streets. Finally, a new arts campaign intended to boost vaccination rates among Latinos in California’s Central Valley.