SAN DIEGO (Feb. 12, 2024) – Continuing its pioneering efforts in the “guaranteed income” arena to help low-income families become more self-sufficient, Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS) has released critical new data related to its economic mobility and opportunity programs.
Guaranteed income is direct, unconditional cash that provides families the freedom to spend money on their most immediate needs as they define them, such as food, childcare, medical needs, rent or other expenses that they decide will have a positive impact for their family.
JFS’s economic mobility and opportunity team leads innovative projects designed to alleviate the major stumbling blocks that underserved San Diego County families face, such as housing unaffordability, soaring health care costs, and labor wage inequity. The programs provide vital financial investments in families with guaranteed income initiatives and targeted community-driven programming.
“With the launch of the San Diego for Every Child Guaranteed Income pilot program in 2022, JFS pioneered guaranteed income programs in San Diego County, providing direct cash assistance to those in need. No big hoops to jump through; no strings attached. No judgment,” Khea Pollard, director, economic mobility and opportunity for JFS. “We have successfully continued this precedent-setting work – addressing the root causes of poverty and socioeconomic disparities with targeted solutions that improve for the lives of local families.”
Recent JFS Economic Security and Mobility program data and highlights include:
- San Diego for Every Child Guaranteed Income Program: JFS serves as the coordinating agency for the San Diego for Every Child Guaranteed Income Program. Slated for completion next month, this forward-thinking program has distributed $1.725 million in funding to date to 150 families within four zip codes in San Diego County, with the goal of providing $500 in monthly cash payments for 24 months. Residents in these areas predominately identify as people of color, have higher rates of unemployment, low income, food insecurity and contend with high rates of environmental stressors. To date, program participants have reported a 68% increase in overall life satisfaction and 25% increase in their general physical health from the start of the program.
- Recovery Action Fund for Tomorrow (RAFT): The County of San Diego and JFS have announced the successful completion of the Recovery Action Fund for Tomorrow (RAFT) grant program – assisting 2,243 low-income families and seniors by distributing nearly $9 million in cash payments. The federally funded program offered $4,000 one-time payments to area residents enduring financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic from select zip codes. The County of San Diego Office of Evaluation, Performance, and Analytics is leading the evaluations.
Data derived from the program revealed that the most daunting expense each month for families was real estate services (rent and mortgage), with an average spend of $849 per household. In addition, 30% of funds spent by participants went to food and groceries, 23% to retail and sales (such as Costco and Target), and 16% provided transportation assistance, including gas costs. These top expenditures also mirrored those of the San Diego for Every Child Guaranteed Income Program, highlighting some of the critical needs in the region.
“The Recovery Action Fund for Tomorrow succeeded in helping individuals and families,” said Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, Vice Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “The small sums of money provided were a difference-maker for the program participants. By helping them get financially back on track before their situation became too dire, we prevented people from entering a state of financial crisis. Preventative measures like RAFT that keep families stable are wise investments, and I appreciate Jewish Family Service of San Diego for being a terrific partner.”
- Family Income for Empowerment Program (FIEP): In partnership with County of San Diego Child and Family Well-Being (CFWB) Department, JFS has begun working to provide 485 low-income families with children under 18 unrestricted monthly cash support of $500 for 24 months. In San Diego County, approximately one third of children under the age of 12 are living in a low-income household. Short and long-term consequences of childhood poverty are vast and devastating, from lifelong impacts on health and wellbeing to access to childcare, education, nutrition and food insecurity, housing and homelessness, and risk of involvement with the child welfare system. Research shows a correlation between families who are at-risk of entering the foster care system and those showing signs of general neglect and poverty, which spurned FIEP’s creation.
The program is based on referrals from CFWB and not open to the general public. It will include a Narrative Change Cohort mirroring the design of the San Diego for Every Child Guaranteed Income Program. The project is currently funded for an impact evaluation through the County of San Diego Office of Evaluation, Performance, and Analytics, with additional funding needed to include process and economic evaluations.
“The County of San Diego is proud to be a partner for transformative initiatives like the Recovery Action Fund for Tomorrow and the Family Income for Empowerment Program that address the root causes of economic challenges and work to uplift our community,” said Chairwoman Nora Vargas of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “The data released today reinforces the positive impact these programs have on our community, providing critical financial assistance to those who need it most. Together, we are building a more resilient and equitable future for San Diego County.”
- Black Women’s Resilience Project: Providing a base of income and network of community resources, the goal of the Black Women’s Resilience Project is to advance culturally relevant support for Black women experiencing poverty in San Diego, with initial seed funding provided by Alliance Healthcare Foundation. Through this program, JFS is showing the racial and ethnic experience of poverty as a social construct, rather than a character deficit – and actively developing solutions to eliminate it. In addition to receiving guaranteed income, participating families will have access to community programs and services designed to maximize the receipt of funds. An advisory board has been formed to help orchestrate the project, and now funding is needed to launch the program in the summer of 2024.
JFS is also proud to launch “The Bigger Picture: Guaranteed Income for the Future of San Diego” – a traveling photo exhibit welcoming the community to learn more about the San Diego for Every Child Guaranteed Income Program. The exhibit shares the stories of those participating in the pilot program. It runs Jan. 29 through Feb. 9 at A Reason to Survive (ARTS) in National City and will travel to various locations throughout San Diego County.
Ultimately, the focus of JFS’s Economic Security and Mobility programs are to craft a cohesive regional narrative about the equitable redistribution of power through dynamic, progressive strategies and financial support. Pollard added, “At Jewish Family Service, we recognize income as fundamentally linked to health and well-being, and we look forward to sharing more successes about our guaranteed income programs moving forward.”
To learn more, visit www.jfssd.org/economicmobility. To learn more about opportunities to fund this work, contact Senior Director of Development, Institutional Giving Ben Coyle at [email protected] or 858-637-3370.
Please note: No programs have open enrollment to the public at this time. New information will be posted at www.jfssd.org as opportunities to enroll become available. To learn about other forms of assistance JFS is currently offering, please visit www.jfssd.org/economicmobility or call (858) 637-3210.
About Jewish Family Service of San Diego – Moving Forward Together
Founded in 1918, Jewish Family Service (JFS) is one of San Diego’s most impactful nonprofit agencies – providing resources and support to over 95,000 people every year. Through integrated services, the organization empowers people of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds to overcome challenges, set goals, and build more stable, secure, and connected lives. JFS is committed to helping individuals and families move forward, while developing innovative strategies to break cycles of poverty and strengthen our San Diego community.
To get help, volunteer, or support JFS, visit jfssd.org or call (858) 637-3000.