Low-income families of color that reside in Oakland, CA, could receive a monthly financial boost for the next year and a half.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the city is launching a guaranteed income project that will give Black and Indigenous families $500 per month for 18 months. The payments will be unconditional and recipients can spend the money on whatever they choose.
“The poverty we all witness today is not a personal failure, it is a systems failure,” Schaaf said in a release. “Guaranteed income is one of the most promising tools for systems change, racial equity, and economic mobility we’ve seen in decades. I’m proud to work with such committed local partners to build a new system that can help undo centuries of economic and racial injustice, and point us all toward a more just society.”
The Oakland Resilient Families Program is a project targeting the city’s wealth disparities through a guaranteed income, where residents are given a set amount of cash per month or annually to supplement their income. The income will help build the income floor of families and allow them to save, pay bills, and purchase items to help make their lives easier.
Under the program 600 families in Oakland will receive payments. In order to qualify for the program, a family must have at least one child under 18 and their income must be below the median income for the area (under $60,000 for a family of three).
Half of the available spots will go to very low-income families, earning below 138% of the federal poverty level. A family of three earning $30,000 per year or less falls into this category.
According to the Oakland Equity Index, the average income for White residents is nearly three times higher than it is for Black residents. The coronavirus pandemic likely made the wealth gap between the two races in Oakland worse.
Guaranteed income is catching on as pilot programs have been proposed in Stockton, CA, Newark, NJ, and Atlanta to help lift city residents out of poverty. The money for the program was raised through philanthropic donations. To date, the program has raised more than $6 million, 80% of which will be distributed to families.
A multilingual form will be released in the coming months for families to sign up for the program. Recipients will be chosen randomly. Because the program does not require that recipients work to receive payments, undocumented and unsheltered/homeless families also qualify for the program.