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Encourage the civic participation, leadership, and engagement of all County residents and ensure all are supported in getting their basic needs met and reaching their full potential.

Goal #6. Equitable and Inclusive County

For a community to flourish, residents need to be able to meet basic needs, achieve self-sufficiency and have positive relationships with other community members, weaving a strong social fabric in which members feel both supported and a responsibility to contribute to the common good.

The County of Santa Clara values this diversity and strives to make County services culturally responsive and accessible to all residents—while recognizing that there is still much work to be done. To fully benefit from the community’s diversity, that diversity must be reflected in decision-making, policy and program development, and educational and outreach efforts. The County will continue to listen and respond to the needs and perspectives of diverse community members, while also removing barriers to such civic engagement.

Associated Policies and Plans

How will we get there?

Achieving social equity will require new public policies, a different allocation of County resources, and clear expectations for civil servants and elected officials. Members of historically marginalized communities and their allies will need resources to build knowledge, skills, and capacities that enable collective action. Supporting community members to participate in government decision-making and effectively communicate with elected officials and government employees will help decision-makers reflect the full range of the County’s diverse opinions and needs.

The County of Santa Clara will continue to remove barriers to civic participation and support existing and future engagement efforts focused on historically marginalized communities, which are underrepresented in (or entirely missing from) decision-making bodies and processes.

Strategy 6.1 Targets and Key Performance Indicator

Countywide Target:

  • Increase the percentage of historically marginalized communities engaging in civic participation (e.g., voting, Census, etc.).

Existing Programs, Policies, and Activities:

  • Santa Clara County Votes Coalition

  • Rapid Response Network

  • Citizenship Collaborative

  • Census 2020 outreach/education efforts

  • SAFE County-Wide Prevention (CAST)

Strategy 6.1 - Civic Engagement

Build capacity, especially in communities that experienced historical disparities to support participation and leadership in efforts to address environmental and social challenges.​

Ensuring that residents have safe and affordable housing close to their workplace improves residents’ quality of life by reducing stress, preventing overcrowding, and lowering household costs to meet other basic needs such as food and healthcare. It can also support environmental sustainability as new construction provides a market for green building technologies like solar panels and water efficiency upgrades, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from long commutes.

For the unincorporated County areas, the County will continue working to meet the state of California’s Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) goals which specify the number of new homes each jurisdiction is supposed to build to meet the housing needs of a growing population with a range of income levels. The County will also support member cities to achieve their RHNA goals. Although most jurisdictions in Santa Clara County have already met or are close to meeting their RHNA goals for Above Moderate Income housing, very few jurisdictions in the County are on-track to meet their RHNA goals for Very Low Income, Low Income, and Moderate-Income housing. The County will also continue supporting the preservation of existing affordable housing stock and providing transitional housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Strategy 6.3 Targets and Key Performance Indicators

Unincorporated County Target:

  • All housing built is to be resilient to extreme weather and better prepared to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Existing Programs, Policies, and Activities:

  • Measure A Affordable Housing bond and projects

  • Project Welcome Home

  • Santa Clara County Continuum of Care

  • MHSA Housing Program

  • Rapid Rehousing, Transitional Housing, and Emergency Shelters (OSH)

  • SAFE County-Wide Prevention (CAST)

  • Universal Access Pilot Program (UAP)

Strategy 6.3 - Safe and Affordable Housing

Ensure that all residents have access to affordable housing that is safe and climate-smart.

Equity can only be achieved when community voices directly impacted by a government decision are central in decision-making processes and shape how government resources are allocated. To ensure community members are able and encouraged to provide feedback on policies, programs, and practices that impact them, community engagement and outreach needs to consider cultural differences and address barriers to participation. These barriers include obligations such as work, community, and family commitments that leave people little capacity to advocate in political processes. When these barriers are not addressed, the voices of well-resourced people are often the only ones heard.

The County of Santa Clara knows that different populations often respond more effectively to alternative approaches of engagement while also recognizing that incredible diversity exists within any community based on identity or geography. The County will continue to strengthen relationships with the many distinct communities that make up Santa Clara County and will work to increase the involvement of residents in decision-making processes at all levels.

Strategy 6.2 Targets and Key Performance Indicators

Existing Programs, Policies, and Activities:

  • Climate Change, Health Equity Unit

  • University of California Cooperative Extension - 4-H Youth Development

  • Santa Clara County Food Systems Alliance

  • SAFE County-Wide Prevention (CAST)

  • Universal Access Pilot Program (UAP)

Countywide Target:

  • Increase the participation of individuals from historically marginalized communities in leadership and advisory and/or decision-making roles.

Strategy 6.2 - Community Engagement and Leadership

Given the high cost of living in Santa Clara County, low-income residents already struggle to make ends meet—and are frequently unable to do so even when working multiple jobs. Many middle-income households in the region are also financially precarious, struggling to manage necessary expenses while paying off student loans or other debt, with limited or no “rainy day” savings. Intended to serve as a safety net if people have nothing else to fall back on, social services (including nutrition assistance and unemployment benefits) help vulnerable community members survive and get back on their feet. As climate change increases the frequency of flooding, wildfires, and extreme heat days, and exacerbates food insecurity, governmental and community-based agencies that provide social services will become even more necessary.

The County of Santa Clara will continue to administer cash, health, nutrition, employment, and in-home assistance programs for low-income and senior residents and support homeless and transitional housing. The County’s Social Services Agency will focus on supporting self-sufficiency among the County’s most vulnerable community members and continue to provide focused support for children and youth who are or have been involved in the County’s child welfare services (including foster care).

Strategy 6.4 Targets and Key Performance Indicators

Existing Programs, Policies, and Activities:

  • School Linked Services

  • CalFresh, CalWORKS, and General Assistance

  • IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services)

  • Emergency Services/Mass Care & Shelter

  • Trauma-Informed and Healing Centered Systems

  • "One-stop" approach to benefits enrollment at Reentry Resource Centers

  • The Hub (for foster youth)

  • Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

  • Universal Access Pilot Program (UAP)

Countywide Target:

  • Increase permanent-housing outcomes for all homeless and unstably housed persons participating in safety net services.

  • Ensure that the basic needs of eligible, low-income residents in the County are met through accessible and timely services that increases participation rates in CalFresh/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medi-Cal, CalWORKs, General Assistance, and other County-administered benefit programs.

Strategy 6.4 - Social Services

Maintain a local safety net for residents and enhance the quality of life, especially

for those residents who will be most affected by hazards and climate change.

A high-quality education prepares children and youth—tomorrow’s community leaders, elected officials, and workforce—to effectively participate in society and achieve lifelong financial security. It also lays the foundation for lifelong learning, which helps people adapt to changing job markets and utilize critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, Santa Clara County (like California and the nation) continues to have significant educational inequities: low-income students, Latinx and African/African ancestry students, English language learners, and students in special education consistently have graduation rates below the County’s average. Many children in historically marginalized communities experience a significant “opportunity gap,” with low-income children missing out on extended learning activities common for children from middle- and high-income families (e.g., tutoring, afterschool and summer programs, field trips) as well as high quality early childhood education. Institutional racism and implicit biases are additional barriers to academic success.

The County of Santa Clara will continue to support children’s primary and secondary education and the provision of supportive services to families in need. It will collaborate to expand access to high quality early childhood education and opportunities for youth to develop and practice leadership skills.

Existing Programs, Policies, and Activities:

  • Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, Care, and Health Services Pilot

  • SCC Library partnership with school districts to get children a library card when they enroll in school

  • Child Abuse Prevention

  • Free eCard for students to provide access to free digital resources 24/7

  • SAFE County-Wide Prevention (CAST)

  • Universal Access Pilot Program (UAP)

  • SCCOE School Leadership Program

Strategy 6.5 Targets and Key Performance Indicators

Strategy 6.5 - Education

Reduce educational inequities and support lifelong learning and engagement.​

Strategy 6.1
Strategy 6.2
Strategy 6.3
Strategy 6.4
Strategy 6.5
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