Moving Forward Together

San Diego for Every Child Guaranteed Income Project

“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

San Diego families were working hard and struggling long before the pandemic. In fact, roughly 40% of children in San Diego County were living in households earning $52,500 or less per year – making it impossible to make ends meet. Rent, childcare, groceries and health care costs quickly exhaust the budget, not to mention when a family faces an unplanned expense like a car or home repair or a medical emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges.

That is why Jewish Family Service, in partnership with San Diego for Every Child, has launched the region’s first Guaranteed Income Project, with the goal of significantly reducing the experience of child poverty and creating an income floor that lifts families up and out of poverty. In cities nationwide, guaranteed income has also proven to improve job prospects, financial stability and overall well-being for families receiving direct cash payments.

“It (Guaranteed Income Program) helped me to not only get caught up on my bills, but to get those bills where they’re supposed to be.”

San Diego’s first guaranteed income program is a few months in, and it is already making a difference in many lives. One hundred and fifty families are receiving $500 a month with no strings attached. The families chosen for the guaranteed income program come from four specific neighborhoods: Encanto, Paradise Hills, San Ysidro and National City. All the families have a child under the age of 12 in the home. San Diego’s guaranteed income project began distributing payments in March and is being administered by the local non-profit, Jewish Family Service.

“The purpose and philosophy behind guaranteed income is that we trust the families to meet their basic needs if we just give them the resources and allow them to self-determine, take up their agency and spend it on the core necessities they need in this pandemic and beyond,” said Khea Pollard, Director of Economic Mobility and Opportunity, Jewish Family Service. “Forty-one percent of these families are spending the money on food. Twenty-eight percent on household essentials. And then 20% on transportation,” said Pollard.

Watch the NBC7 San Diego Story >>