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Social Safety Net

Strengthening the Social Safety Net

Nearly one in five Californians were in poverty (6.75 million) in 2019 — one of the highest poverty rates in the United States. Millions of Californians depend on a wide array of social safety-net programs to provide basic needs like food, healthcare, and housing. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of the social safety net in providing for basic needs, especially for low-income Californians and people of color. 

There is increasing evidence that social safety-net programs not only lift Californians out of poverty, but also improve employment, educational, and health outcomes. Yet, the safety net still fails too many Californians, and there are crucial improvements needed at the local, state, and federal level to improve these programs. For low-income people of color in California, who have disproportionately been excluded from such benefits over the course of American history, finding ways to address these gaps is especially crucial. 

The California Policy Lab partners with the state, county, and local agencies that administer safety-net programs to conduct research and to improve coordination and data integration. Our ultimate goal is to pull more Californians out of poverty and to provide a robust safety net for those that experience financial hardship. 

Tax-Delivered Benefits

CPL is partnering with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) to understand how to increase the take-up of the EITC and anti-poverty tax credits aimed at low-income Californians.



Other Safety-Net Projects

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