The city of Mountain View is looking to give low-income families monthly checks of $ 500 without any strings attached, joining a growing number of cities across the country that are testing a Guaranteed Basic Income program.
The plan is to use $ 1 million in federal stimulus funds to launch a Universal Basic Income (UBI) -formed financial assistance pilot, which has gained popularity in recent years as a way to help families in need. Unlike more rigid financial aid programs, the monthly money can be spent as the recipient sees fit.
Dozens of cities across the country are considering similar programs, creating an âincome floorâ for residents to have greater financial stability while paying for basic needs like shelter and food. Although UBI was once a fringe idea, several recent studies have found promising results showing that a guaranteed income can improve employment and reduce financial dependence on friends and family.
City officials are proposing that the Mountain View Guaranteed Income Pilot Project provide monthly payments of $ 500 to very low-income families earning less than 30% of the county’s median income, as well as caregivers of children under 18 years old. Participation will be around 166 families for one year, which the city could expand to two years if it can find more money to pay for the program.
Census data shows that there are approximately 6,500 families who would meet the income criteria for the program, currently capped at $ 49,700 for a family of four, as well as 1,000 households with children who receive government cash assistance. , including additional security income. These families are more likely to reside in census tracts where the Latin American population is higher and where cases of COVID-19 have proliferated.
Most Basic Income programs deployed in higher cost areas offer participating families $ 1,000 per month, twice as much as what is offered in Mountain View. Last year, Santa Clara County launched a basic income program for young adults aging outside the foster care system, providing $ 1,000 in monthly checks to 72 participants. The results were positive enough that county supervisors voted in June to extend the program beyond its one-year lifespan.
âFunding was a crucial intervention to prevent young people from becoming destabilized,â Jimenez Perez, manager of the pilot’s program, said in a statement at the time. âIt has allowed a lot of people to stay in housing or stay in school. Now the purpose of the extra time afforded by the extension is to allow them to really work out a long-term stability plan. of a formidable and important junction in their lives. “
A participant in the county’s program said she was leaving the youth reception system when she needed to leave her college dorm due to the pandemic. She said the extra money from the Basic Income program helped her find a room and stay in the area to complete her education.
Mountain View City Councilor Margaret Abe-Koga proposed to set up a Guaranteed Basic Income pilot project in the city in April, suggesting that $ 1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA ) would be used to fund the program. City council has approved the allocation of funds and is expected to vote on the details of a basic income program at the council meeting on Tuesday, September 28.
At the time, Abe-Koga said the funds could be a direct way to stabilize families in need of pandemic relief, and that it could also be a long-term solution to help those struggling. to pay for their accommodation. She said she has been interested in the benefits of a UBI program since former presidential candidate Andrew Yang made it part of his 2020 campaign platform.
Yang spoke at a rally in Mountain View on Saturday, September 25, to promote basic income programs and highlight Mountain View’s proposal. He pointed to the wave of support for the UBI – whose polls show a majority of U.S. voters are now back – and the growing evidence that money is being spent heavily on necessities like housing, food and gasoline.
Although $ 1 million has been allocated to the program, the total cost is expected to be much higher.
City officials say the aim is to help residents pay for their basic needs and give them the financial flexibility they need to find full-time employment, but it is also an opportunity to ‘study the difference that $ 500 checks can make. The proposal that will be discussed on Tuesday calls for spending an additional $ 250,000 to hire a company that will research the results, interviewing 110 participants as well as 132 non-participants as a control group.
City employees believe it will take an additional $ 150,000 to help nonprofits administer the pilot, and that up to $ 200,000 should be set aside to pay for a loss of net services. security. Participants who depend on public benefits such as CalWorks and Social Security may suddenly become ineligible with an additional annual income of $ 6,000, and most cities testing Basic Income programs have a special fund to help compensate. these losses.
The total additional costs to launch the pilot are estimated to be between $ 500,000 and $ 650,000. The city would have to seek philanthropic funds to offset the costs of the program and could ultimately tap into future stimulus funds or the general fund to pay for it.