Public safety, mental health and substance abuse are at crisis levels. At the Aug. 30 Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting, supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Otto Lee were rightly critical of the growing delays and cost overruns of addressing these needs. “It has been seven years since the Board of Supervisors directed administration to develop an acute inpatient facility to treat children, adolescents and adults … Despite the allocation of funds, issuance of debt and development of plans, the County has not successfully issued a contract to begin construction.”

For those keeping score at home, the county of Santa Clara has an annual budget of $11.5 billion to provide mandated public safety and health services for our 2 million residents. What is more essential for families than health and safety? Nothing. Children cannot flourish without regular medical care. Individuals afflicted with addiction and mental health disorders cannot heal without treatment. Businesses (jobs) cannot prosper amid high crime. The services provided by the county hold the fabric of our society together. So what is going on?

I did some digging and found that multiple county projects have had extensive (and very costly) delays. In some cases, services that have been funded are not being delivered. According to supervisors Ellenberg and Lee, $102 million budgeted for mental health services last fiscal cycle did not get spent to help in this crisis. Meanwhile 188 people have died from overdoses, and 106 have died from suicide so far this year.

In 2008, the Board of Supervisors approved plans for a replacement jail facility and even secured $80 million in state funding for the project. Subsequent jail plans included state-of-the-art mental health treatments as well as education, skills training and re-entry services to help inmates be ready for life outside and decrease their chances of falling back …read more

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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