City Heights is the most culturally diverse community within California’s San Diego County, with 7 of the 10 most densely populated census tracts, and 73,832 residents. The City Heights Clean and Safe Coalition will serve low-income youth under age 18 living in City Heights. City Heights has a particularly large youth population – with 42% of residents under the age of 18. The ethnic composition of the community is as follows: Hispanic or Latino 57.4 %, Asian/ Pacific Islander 14.7 %, White 14%, Black or African American 10.9%, other/mixed 2.7%, and American Indian 0.3%. 100% of the population is considered low-income according to San Diego’s cost of living standards. The average yearly income for a family of four is between $19,393 and $24,400, within the range of the federal poverty level of $22,050. All four of City Heights’ zip codes, 92105, 92102, 92104, 92115, are considered the most impoverished in San Diego according to percentage of families below the federal poverty guidelines. Poverty, unemployment, child obesity, violence, and drug abuse among youth are some key problems this community faces. City Heights' teens particularly struggle with alcohol and marijuana use in comparison to their counterparts in surrounding regions.
The City Heights Clean and Safe Coalition (CHCSC) formed in 2013 in response to the community’s complex challenges. Individuals and representatives from different sectors work together to increase safety and reduce substance abuse in City Heights. The anticipated outcomes of the coalition are strengthened collaboration among stakeholders from twelve sectors, increased youth engagement and advocacy, increased awareness and knowledge about the dangers of alcohol and marijuana use within the community, and reduced substance use among youth in City Heights. Through a combination of partnership development, youth leadership training, implementation of comprehensive strategies, and an array of meaningful opportunities for civic engagement among residents, the CHCSC will create long term systems change and improve the quality of life for San Diego’s most disenfranchised neighborhoods. Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), San Diego, a nonprofit agency with roots in City Heights since 1971, will provide technical assistance and fiscal oversight to the coalition to ensure its prevention programs reach more than 20,000 youth over the five year period.