A mother picks up meals for her daughter at National City Middle School. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Jewish Family Service of San Diego announced Tuesday that a nonprofit coalition will test a guaranteed income program in disadvantaged neighborhoods in San Diego and National City.

The San Diego for Every Child project is led by JFS and backed by Rep. Sara Jacobs, whose district includes the targeted neighborhoods, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis.

Participants in the new project will receive direct, unconditional monthly cash payments that can be spent on immediate needs such as food for their household, repairing a car to get to work, medicine to treat a loved one or housing expenses.

The funds are meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and help achieve economic justice and address the racial and gender inequities that impact the lives of children experiencing poverty.

The concept received national attention in 2019 when Stockton in the Central Valley gave randomly selected residents $500 per month for two years, resulting in improved job prospects and financial stability for the recipients.

“I’m so excited to be working with Jewish Family Service on this approach to support San Diego’s kids and families. The only way we will solve a problem as big as childhood poverty is with big, bold thinking, and not being beholden to the way things have always been done,” said Jacobs, who will chair the project.

The project will focus on low-income families with children under the age of 12 living in the zip codes in San Diego and National City most affected economically by the COVID-19 pandemic

The two mayors also announced that they have signed-on to Mayors for Guaranteed Income, a national network of mayors advocating for guaranteed income projects.

“I’m hopeful a pilot project here in San Diego can help uplift more local families and reduce child poverty,” said Gloria. “This kind of initiative will keep families financially secure and generate much-needed revenue to help drive our economic recovery.”

Sotelo-Solis said she is hopeful that the guaranteed income program “can provide financial stability to our community here in National City just as it can across the country, ensuring no one falls through the cracks.”

Organizers said more information about funding sources and eligibility for the program will be announced in the coming months.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.