Filling gaps in services for homeless people, addressing illegal dumping, creating a virtual receptionist program and managing mutual aid during the December 2, 2015 terrorist attack were four of the innovative programs and services recognized this month with Challenge and Merit Awards by the California State Association of Counties (CSAC).

“These awards demonstrate the county has great people who are doing a commendable job of addressing the community’s highest priorities,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Robert A. Lovingood.

Each year, CSAC honors best practices in county governments in California. This year, CSAC received a record number of entries – 288 from counties around the state.

Last year, the County of San Bernardino received four CSAC awards and won three in 2015 and 2014, five in 2013, three in 2012, two in 2011 and one in 2010.

In the Health and Human Services category, San Bernardino County received a prestigious Challenge Award for its Housing Support Program Collaborative, which fills in gaps in services available to homeless families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The Transitional Assistance Department (TAD) along with the Department of Behavioral Health, Housing Authority and Knowledge and Education for Your Success (KEYS) joined together to help families overcome homelessness. Since the collaborative began in 2015, 644 families have been permanently housed.

In the Health And Human Services category, the Department of Public Health won a Merit Award for Mutual Aid for a Public Health Emergency, which helped to rebuild the Division of Environmental Health Services when resources were limited following the San Bernardino terrorist attack on Dec. 2, 2015. Expertise from environmental health departments throughout California contributed to rebuilding the division and training programs were built into the mutual aid response.

In the Government Finance, Administration and Technology category, the Division of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) won a Merit Award for the Virtual Receptionist program, which was implemented at the (DEHS) High Desert location in Hesperia to improve staff efficiency and lower wait times for customers.

In the Housing, Land Use and Infrastructure category, San Bernardino County Code Enforcement won a Merit Award for its Illegal Dumping program, which uses inmate crews to help abate illegal dumping to prevent blight and save taxpayer money.

San Bernardino County is consistently one of the nation’s most-honored counties in terms of state and national awards for innovative and cost-saving public service. During the past eight years the county has won more than 250 awards from CSAC and the National Association of Counties for ground-breaking programs and services.