A local coalition will provide monthly stipends of $ 500 to 150 families in some of San Diego County’s most disadvantaged communities.
As part of this effort, known as the Guaranteed Income Program, families who reside in areas with high child poverty rates will receive the money for two years to use as they see fit to meet immediate needs. .
“There are no strings attached, it’s really simple: when people get the money, they choose what they want to spend it on,” said Khea Pollard, director of San Diego for Every Child, the coalition at the head of the program.
San Diego for Every Child launched in January 2020 and aims to reduce child poverty by 50% over the next decade. The coalition, founded by Representative Sara Jacobs, D-San Diego, and hosted by the Jewish Family Service of San Diego, consists of youth advocates, community leaders and agencies such as the Center on Policy Initiatives, the YMCA Childcare Resource Services of San Diego County and the Parent Institute for Quality Education.
Among county children aged 12 and under, 40% lived below 200% of the federal poverty line in 2017, according to the US Census Bureau. The data means a family of four struggled to make ends meet on less than $ 26,000 a year.
The guaranteed income program targets families who reside in neighborhoods that have not only been hardest hit by the pandemic, but who have also experienced financial hardship previously. These areas include: 92114 (Encanto / San Diego), 92139 (Paradise Hills), 91950 (National City) and 92173 (San Ysidro).
“While realizing that everyone has been affected by COVID-19, these communities in these target areas previously suffered from a lack of access to food, a lack of access to child care, to housing, those kinds of issues prevail in these low- income colored communities, ”Pollard said.
San Diego for Every Child has tracked local child poverty levels through its Public Child Poverty Map. In Encanto neighborhoods, for example, their data showed that between 72 and 86 out of every 100 children live in poverty. In National City, that figure was over half of 100 children.
“We have learned the hard lesson this year that financial security can evaporate in the face of an unpredictable world and an economy more unequal than ever,” Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said in a statement. “A guaranteed income can bring financial stability to our community here in National City, just like across the country, ensuring that no one falls through the cracks. “
Over the two years of the program, the coalition hopes to continue collecting data by learning how families use the funding. They will collect information through surveys.
“There will be a treatment group of 150 families and there will be a control group that will not receive the $ 500 per month but will participate in surveys just so that we can follow their progress over that two year period,” Said Pollard.
Funds for payments and research will be met from several sources, including $ 1.4 million from government funding and $ 200,000 from the San Diego-based Alliance Healthcare Foundation.
This program is considered the first of its kind in San Diego County, although the model is not new. Similar programs, offering up to $ 2,000 in monthly payments to families, have been announced in Los Angeles and Stockton.
Guaranteed income initiatives have been criticized for discouraging people from finding jobs or endangering existing social protection programs. Pollard said the allowances are meant as supplements and research has shown other similar programs to be successful.
A key finding from Stockton’s economic empowerment demonstration, which gave 125 families $ 500 per month for two years, showed that the program increased participants’ full-time employment by 12 percent and “dampened financial scarcity, creating new opportunities for self-determination, choice, goal setting and risk taking, ”according to his analysis of the first year.
“A lot (of the programs) have shown that the people who have embarked on these pilots actually find work as a result of it, that the money acts as a stabilizing force so that people can actually spend time out of the mode. survival, ”Pollard said. .
Residents interested in learning more about the program can attend two upcoming events. The coalition will host forums from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Jackie Robinson YMCA and Thursday at the Border View YMCA. Events will also include dinner, pantry support and childcare.
The deadline to apply for the guaranteed income program is December 6. Applications are available at sandiegoforeverychild.org.