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.
“We were able to go to Walmart and get brand new school supplies, 'Get everything you need. Everything you need. Your highlighters your erasers, mechanical pencils your markers, whatever,'” said Kelvin Marshall, one of the first recipients of the guaranteed income money.
Marshall is a single father of three girls. He has a 15-year-old, a 12-year-old, and a youngest daughter who is just two years old.
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During the pandemic, Marshall had trouble paying his bills.
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“It helped me to not only get caught up on my bills but to get those bills where they’re supposed to be,” said Marshall
The extra cash also helps with diapers for Marshall’s youngest daughter.
“She’s growing like a bush, so I have to make sure she has adequate clothes.”
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 Services
“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.
The guaranteed income project will last two years. With the backing of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, guaranteed income will be expanded to hundreds of more families in the future.
“Obviously, we don’t think $500 is going to cover the whole cost of living. Absolutely not. We’re really looking at families who are working hard doing their best to get by, but just need a little bit of extra help to keep their family together,” said Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer.
For Marshall, it’s keeping his family healthy and he's feeling less stress.
“It’s brought a whole big relief, a whole big relief,” said Marshall
The State of California has allocated $1.4 million for San Diego's program. California is planning to spend $35 million on similar programs across the state, over the next five years.