San Mateo County Coalition and Mission Asset Fund Launch Guaranteed Income for 500 Immigrant Families

Pilot program provides $400 a month to immigrant families excluded from federal relief

Five hundred immigrant families excluded from federal COVID-19 financial relief will receive $400 in guaranteed monthly income for up to two years. The pilot program is co-sponsored by a coalition of San Mateo County partners focused on children's health, including the County, and led by the nonprofit Mission Asset Fund (MAF).

The County and MAF today announced the enrollment of the first participants in the program, supported by $3.2 million directed from the Children's Health Initiative Trust Fund. The program, pairing cash payments with timely and actionable financial education and coaching, supports immigrant families excluded from federal COVID-19 relief and the expanded Child Tax Credit.

"The County is committed to seeing all of its residents recover equitably from the pandemic and this program is an important step to help the families and children of our community," said Supervisor Don Horsley, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

During the COVID-19 crisis, federal policies excluded 11.5 million immigrants and their families from relief. An immigrant family of four was denied upward of $11,400 in stimulus checks. In San Mateo County, an estimated 55,000 undocumented immigrants were barred from this relief. 

Left out of this assistance, immigrant families in San Mateo County now face a long road to economic recovery. Based on MAF's study of more than 3,000 county residents, three in four immigrant families with young children reported being unable to pay their bills in full. 

Direct cash payments work. Monthly cash payments through the expanded federal Child Tax Credit lifted 3.8 million children out of poverty before expiring in December 2021. Proposed legislation in the Build Back Better Act would resume these payments and expand the program to include children with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers.

The Immigrant Families Recovery Program provides monthly cash payments to families who are low-income, have children under the age of 6 and lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than enrolling families through a first-come, first-served approach or a lottery system, which benefit those with access, information, and luck, MAF is sending invitations to eligible families who previously received a $1,000 emergency grant to apply. 

"Until Congress passes permanent protections for immigrant families, millions are having to make impossible decisions between paying for food or medical expenses," MAF CEO José Quiñonez said. "We're launching this $30 million national program to help immigrants recover faster. MAF and our partners are acting to ensure that our neighbors in communities across the country have the resources to begin rebuilding their financial lives." 

Ongoing learning is a critical component of the Immigrant Families Recovery Program. MAF is leading the program evaluation through a series of surveys and listening sessions to understand what it will take for families to rebuild their financial lives.

One San Mateo County program participant shared:

"[El programa] me proporcionará un alivio [financiero] para poder pagar deudas que tengo y comprar zapatos y ropa a mis niños que ya no eh podido comprarles."

"[The program] will provide me with some [financial] relief to pay the debts I have and be able to buy shoes and clothes for my children which I have not been able to do for them." 

The guaranteed income pilot is the latest chapter in the partnership between San Mateo County partners and MAF. In 2020, the County and Children's Health Initiative provided $6 million towards emergency grants for immigrant families in San Mateo County. MAF administered this fund, which provided more than 16,000 cash grants.

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Madeleine Woodle

Source: Mission Asset Fund