Report on Poverty in San Diego Jewish Community

While findings were many, the major conclusions include:

  • Limited community awareness about poverty in the San Diego
  • Many of the community biases and beliefs were incorrect.
  • Poverty is more pervasive than expected. 9,000 Jews are living on incomes below the poverty line. Another 5,000 households or about 12,000 individuals were barely able to make ends meet as of January 2020, before the impact of the pandemic. In total, approximately 20% of San Diego’s Jewish population is financially vulnerable.
  • Many different drivers of poverty. Includes elderly outliving resources; sudden loss of jobs, family break-up, single-parent households, fluctuations in the economy, unexpected emergencies, health problems, disabilities, and just bad breaks.
  • Numerous different needs require services. Includes: personal dignity, health and wellness, nutrition, employment, housing, transportation, basic household goods, socialization, financial aid, services identification, navigation and access, personal care, and prevention. Mental health challenges and other disabilities are particularly strong drivers of poverty and living in poverty is often a cause of mental health challenges.
  • Households typically require multiple services. Households typically face multiple challenges and require diverse services to meet their needs.
  • Needs are currently not being adequately met by Jewish organizations. Even if it were desirable for one organization to provide all services, it would not be feasible.
  • Many other local service providers and government benefits are available but not being adequately utilized. Very confusing array of potential service providers and local, state, and federal assistance programs. Jews in San Diego are among the least effective users of local, State, Federal or communal benefits available for those living in poverty.
  • Many Service Gaps exist. These include: Emergency Housing; Affordable Housing; Short-term “hand-out” funding/loans; Dentistry; Vision Care; Legal support; Tax and accounting assistance; Financial literacy; No-cost access to Jewish Community activities; Information and Resource hub with navigators; Vocational services; Transportation issues; Socialization/personal attention; “Wrap-around” case management. Also, inadequate mental health and disabilities support and funding for long-term care.
  • Many barriers to accessing and navigating existing services and benefits. Need support and information on confusing array of potential service providers and local, state, and federal assistance programs. Other constraints include: emotional distress; sourcing services information; complexity in selecting service providers; navigation complex processes; lack of basic communications equipment; transportation limitations; isolation and social consequences.
  • Lack of credibility in current support system and services by users. Interviews with vulnerable individuals reflected disappointment, anger and disillusionment with the Jewish community and organizations in not meeting all their needs in a dignified and meaningful way.
  • Numerous projects were identified to address the needs of the vulnerable. Projects and programs that address service gaps and access constraints were identified. Critical to connect those who qualify with existing government services. Jews in San Diego county are among the least effective users of local, State, Federal or communal benefits.
  • Communal plan needed for addressing Jewish poverty.Other cities making progress in addressing Jewish poverty have done so at the communal level by making it a communal priority, encouraging experimentation, and providing the necessary resources. Need a coordinated plan and system single intake point, provide a comprehensive and updated list of Jewish and secular resources, and system to ensure people access them, not just a soft hand-off.
  • Ongoing communal oversight through metrics, monitoring and reporting is needed.