California Legislature Allocates $1.4 Million for San Diego Guaranteed Income Project

A street corner in City Heights, which has among the highest proportion of residents living below the poverty line in San Diego.

By Chris Jennewein

Original article:

California will appropriate $1.4 million for the first test of a local guaranteed income project to help support 150 needy families in San Diego and National City.

San Diego for Every Child – a nonprofit coalition housed under Jewish Family Service of San Diego – will use the funding to provide families of color having at least one child under 12 with cash payments of $500 per month for two years.

The money can be spent on basic needs such as food, repairing a car to get to work, medicine to treat a loved one, or rent.

State Senators Toni Atkins and Ben Hueso, both Democrats, played crucial roles in securing the state funds, which will be supplemented through institutional fundraising and private philanthropy. 

“This initiative is designed to lift up our region’s families and combat childhood poverty,” said Atkins. “Additionally, the state is poised to invest another $35 million in state funding across California to support guaranteed income programs which are vital in providing a safety net for struggling families while spurring economic recovery.”

“It’s time to end the narrative that people experiencing poverty simply need to work harder or make better choices,” Hueso said. “Income inequality is at its highest rate since right before the Great Depression and is, at least in part, a result of policies and laws in this country that perpetuate poverty and racial inequity.”

A basic-income experiment beginning in Stockton in 2019 was found to have measurably improved participants’ job prospects and financial stability, encouraging other cities to experiment with similar programs.

“Social justice starts with economic equity,” said Khea Pollard, director of San Diego for Every Child. “Our guaranteed income project is designed to support families who were not only hit hardest by COVID-19, but who were struggling to make ends meet before.

“Similar programs throughout the state have proven that direct, unconditional cash programs lead to greater success for participants, alleviating cumbersome processes and in turn, enriching their personal and professional lives,” Pollard added.

The San Diego program intends to specifically focus on families from Encanto, Paradise Hills, National City and San Ysidro.

San Diego for Every Child’s eligibility survey for participation in the project is open through Monday. The survey is available in English, Spanish, Somali, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese and Arabic. Participants will be selected and contacted in January.

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