Sophia Rodriguez gives her 10-month-old son a bottle while he holds her finger in Chula Vista on March 8, 2022.
Sophia Rodriguez gives her 10-month-old son a bottle while he holds her finger. / File photo by Ariana Drehsler for Voice of San Diego

With election results now certified, it has become clear that there will be a shift in leadership and decision-making within the halls of the U.S. House of Representatives. We are now in a “lame duck period,” which is defined as the in-between time when an out-going elected official or group continues to hold power, before the inauguration of their successor(s). Often, a lame duck period is understood as a time of inaction, of sitting, and waiting. The problem is … San Diego families can’t afford to wait.

At the start of this year, a report from OJO Labs — a digital home-buying platform — announced that San Diego had surpassed San Francisco as the “nation’s least affordable metro” area. That is not surprising with average rent for a family in San Diego is anywhere between $2,800 and $5,000, up almost 6 percent from last year. Coupled with a consumer price increase of over 8 percent from September 2021 to September 2022 — higher than the national average — it is no surprise to hear that San Diego families are continuing to struggle to make ends meet.

NBC San Diego recently profiled Kelvin Marshall about his family’s participation in the San Diego for Every Child Guaranteed Income Pilot. In a time of increasing income inequality, the pilot offers families reliable cash that is at the discretion of recipients on how to use it. The ‘no strings attached’ cash has not only helped Kelvin provide for his daughters’ basics needs, it has also given him peace of mind through trying times. And research shows, his peace of mind correlates to the positive and healthy development of his three daughters.

Every family, every child, should be afforded this same opportunity. Is that not our job as a community and society? We all benefit from every child growing up with financial stability.

And yet, despite report after report after report showing the positive benefits of the American Rescue Plan’s expanded, monthly Child Tax Credit — not to mention child poverty falling to a record low — it expired in January 2022. Following this expiration, 16 states looked to help families by sending their own Child Tax Credit checks or providing tax deductions. And while this helped many families, imagine how many more children could benefit from the passage of a federal child allowance.

Nearly 450 economists — including Nobel Prize winners and leading economic voices from our San Diego region — have expressed their support for this policy in terms of “our country’s long-term economic prosperity.” And U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said, “the expansion of the Child Tax Credit was ‘not a significant factor’ and has ‘utterly nothing to do’ with inflation — dispelling recent criticism that the expanded CTC helped fuel it.” Sadly, even with these insights, checks stopped Dec. 15, 2021. Now, report after report shows us the negative impacts children and families are facing.

Without these monthly payments, it is clear that households across the country have “struggled to afford their daily needs, put food on the table, stay current with bills, and maintain savings balances.”

Earlier this month, Representative Pramila Jayapal out of the state of Washington, and Representative Jimmy Gomez out of California, put forth a letter to Democratic Leadership encouraging a line in the sand: no year-end corporate tax cuts without also providing much-needed financial relief to families. We commend our local representative, Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, for being one of the 58 members of Congress to sign that letter.

Now — right now, during this lame duck period — Congress has the responsibility to do what we, the public, elected them to do: to legislate, on our behalf, for the well-being of our children, families, and communities. And critical to that well-being is a meaningful, reliable child allowance that, right now, comes in the form of a permanent, expanded, monthly Child Tax Credit for all children and their families.

Danielle Bautista

Danielle is a San Diego resident, RESULTS Fellow, and the Senior Policy Associate of SaverLife, a national fintech and advocacy nonprofit that helps households...

Erin Hogeboom

Erin Hogeboom is Director of San Diego for Every Child, a regional initiative to cut the experience of child poverty in San Diego County in half by 2030.

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