SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Chairwoman Nora Vargas made history Wednesday night as she became the first Latina, immigrant and woman of color to deliver the State of the County address.
Her message focused on unifying the region as she outlined the county’s priorities for 2023.

“I want you to know that I am always here for you, and I’ve got your back. There’s nothing we can’t accomplish, because together we got this,” Vargas said.

Vargas sounded confident and proud before a crowd who came to hear her historic address. One of her main concerns: tackling the growing homeless epidemic, which has been declared a public health crisis.

“Together with my colleague, Supervisor Joel Anderson, we are finding ways to streamline the creation of emergency housing through our compassionate housing solution, creating public/private partnerships with faith-based and community organizations to set up cabin-style shelters, and we are investing $1.5 million to launch this program,” Vargas said.

The chairwoman also spoke about how she’s launching what she calls a thriving seniors’ initiative to make sure the elderly are taken care of.

“We are investing $2.75 million on a subsidy program to help older adults who are a paycheck away from becoming unsheltered. Each senior in the program will receive $500 per month to help pay their rent.”

Vargas also stressed the importance of addressing the mental health of county residents, especially young people who were impacted emotionally and mentally by the pandemic.

“Last year our board allocated approximately $30 million for mental health services and projects that focus on children and youth as well as $2 million to support homebound individuals who are recipients of in home supportive services,” Vargas said.

And in terms of boosting the economy, Vargas says she and her colleagues have awarded close to $26.2 million in grants to help support local businesses.

”From oasis ice cream parlor in Imperial Beach to Cat Cafe in East Village, we will continue to create programs to help micro businesses and provide a space to bring small vendors together to connect with each other. Working together, we will continue removing barriers to uplift small businesses and promote economic prosperity in all corners of San Diego County,” Vargas said.