SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- This fall, some low-income families in San Diego County will begin receiving a guaranteed income of $500 a month, no strings attached. The program aims to get families out of poverty.
Not all children in San Diego have three healthy meals a day.
"About 40% of children under 12 are living in a household making at or below the federal poverty line," Erin Hogeboom said.
Hogeboom is the Director of 'San Diego for Every Child,' a non-profit chaired by Congresswoman Sarah Jacobs that aims to end childhood poverty. It is also the main partner in the region's new Guaranteed Income Project.
"We are focusing on communities in San Diego and in National City that were disproportionately impacted by not only COVID but the emerging recession," Hogeboom said.
The project mirrors a pilot program in Stockton, California, two years ago, where 125 low-income families got $500 a month for a year. Participants were not required to do drug tests, interviews, or have work requirements. In our region, 'San Diego for Every Child' aims to do the same for 150 families for two years.
"No strings attached income that would just really help get them in a financially stable place and also infuse that back into our local economy," Hogeboom said.
Critics of the program said this is a handout and not hand up that would discourage participants from seeking work themselves. But researchers who studied the Stockton pilot program found that participants with full-time jobs increased by 12%.
"Contrary to what some of the concerns were, we saw increases in work," Hogeboom said. "So with this increased income, many families were actually able to go to job interviews that may not have been able to take the time off to do before."
The study also found that a vast majority of the Stockton participants used the $500 for essentials, including food and utilities. Only 1% of the money went toward cigarettes and alcohol.
'San Diego for Every Child' is now fundraising the $1.8 million needed to fund the program and working out logistics and criteria for the participants. According to Hogeboom, funding will ideally come from a mix of philanthropy and individual donations, as well as some government allocations.
"This is just a more effective, cost-efficient, and dignified way to provide that support for families experiencing poverty," Hogeboom said.