Reflecting on the First Year of Service
By Supervisor Otto Lee
December 8th marked one year of service as your Santa Clara County Supervisor. I am thankful for our community and to my District 3 Team for working tirelessly to better Santa Clara County. As your Supervisor, it is very important to me to hear your concerns and address your issues. Since day one, I have participated in hundreds of meetings and events with our neighbors to learn about the issues you care about.
After considering the issues that community members highlighted, I authored 26 referrals to address the most pressing needs in our community. These issues include: increasing housing options for our unhoused neighbors; combatting hate crimes against our AAPI neighbors; forming a sustainability commission to look for greener, more sustainable options for our futures; and expanding mental health resources as we continue to grapple with this pandemic and the emerging variants.
As we enter Year Three of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must do our part to assist those who were severely impacted. Homelessness was an issue in our community before COVID struck and COVID has only exacerbated our housing challenges. During the year 2020, we had 196 people, including a newborn infant, die on our Santa Clara County streets due to exposure. Horrifically, 2021 saw an increase in deaths as there were 250 unhoused people, including 3 infants, who died on streets. This is unacceptable everywhere, but it is especially intolerable in the richest county in Northern California. I am proud that my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors recognized this urgency and recently approved multiple supportive housing sites in our County. These supportive housing units will be used to house veterans and families with young children that lost their home due to the pandemic. I am proud to be a part of the solution for some of our most vulnerable community members.
Since March 2020, there has been a horrifying increase in hate crimes against our AAPI community. I am proud to have put forward a referral that was unanimously approved to show that hate has no home in Santa Clara County. This referral created an anti-hate community outreach and education campaign that included funding for community-based organizations to deliver programming to prevent and respond to hate incidents. Everyone deserves to be safe in the community that they call home.
The pandemic has highlighted our community’s critical need for affordable and quality mental healthcare, particularly in our county justice system. By getting those in custody the mental health care that they need, this can help deter criminal activity that might otherwise land individuals in our jails. We know that incarceration is not a sustainable solution for those who are dealing with mental challenges. Nor is it fair to deprive a person of a basic mental healthcare services then punish them for a mental health episode. Providing accessible, affordable, and quality mental healthcare will minimize the number of people in our justice system and maximize the number of people positively contributing to our community.
As I step into my second year of service as a Santa Clara County Supervisor, I remain steadfast in my commitment to accessibility, transparency, and to provide updated information to our district. Our community newsletter is the quickest way to learn about all the updates happening in District 3 and Santa Clara County. Click HERE to read one of our 26 newsletters from 2021. If you are interested in receiving my newsletter, please click HERE.
Over these next few years, I look forward to continuing to listen and work with you to provide solutions that will better our community. I want to say thank you to everyone who was on this journey with me in 2021. I look forward to what’s ahead this year in 2022. I hope you had a peaceful and safe time with your family and loved ones during the holiday season.