County to Make $4,000 Economic Recovery Payments to 2,250 Families Hurt by COVID

Supervisor Nora Vargas
Supervisor Nora Vargas and Chris Olsen of Jewish Family Service of San Diego outside the County Administration Building on Friday. Photo by Chris Jennewein

San Diego County health officials announced Friday a new program offering $4,000 payments to low-income families and seniors still suffering financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Recovery Action Fund for Tomorrow, or RAFT, will distribute payments to 2,250 families and seniors who qualify, complete an application and are then chosen by lottery.

“Our communities have still not recovered from the financial repercussions,” said Supervisor Nora Vargas, adding that providing one-time payments “gives people the dignity to make their own decisions” about necessary spending.

The RAFT initiative is funded by $10 million from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan.

The program will be administered by the nonprofit Jewish Family Service of San Diego, which has experience with a privately funded income-subsidy program called San Diego for Every Child.

Applications for RAFT in nine languages can be filled out online on the Jewish Family Service website starting May 8 with a Sahu Newsof midnight May 28. Applicants must be seniors or families with children under 18 years of age, earning $60,000 or less, and living in one of 39 health equity Zip Codes. The applications will be entered into a random lottery.

Nick Macchione, director of the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, said the program is needed because health inequality increased during COVID, with 1 million county residents on Medicaid and 375,000 needing food assistance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made issues of inequality more stark,” he said, adding “we know that direct cash assistance plans work.”

Jewish Family Service’s Khea Pollard, director of economic mobility and opportunity, said the social service agency’s income assistance program provides proof that the money is well spent. “Families are buying food, they’re buying household necessities,” she said.

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