County approves $18 million in homeless funding

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved spending $18.8 million in state funds to help people dealing with homelessness and mental health issues and hopefully avoid the justice system.

The money — which comes from the state Homeless Emergency Aid Program — may also be used to enhance shelter and service options currently available in unincorporated areas of San Diego County, officials said.

Board Chair Kristin Gaspar said that while homeless prevention hasn’t been a priority, this funding “can change that.” For example, she said, the money could help those having trouble paying their rent.

The county will contribute $4.2 million to help identify those at risk for homelessness.

As part of the funding agreement, the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution declaring a shelter crisis in the county’s unincorporated areas, allowing the county and providers to apply for funds under the Homeless Emergency Aid Program.