The City of Oakland announced a pilot program to give a small group of low-income people a guaranteed monthly income to see if it will improve their economic plight. Oakland Resilient Families, the name of the program, will provide $500 a month for at least 18 months to the families who can spend the money on anything they want to.
“Our vision is an Oakland that has closed the racial wealth gap and where all families thrive,” Schaaf said in a video. “And we believe that guaranteed income is the most transformative policy to achieve this vision and whose time has come. We believe poverty is not personal failure, it is policy failure.”
The program is open to all residents, including undocumented people. To be eligible, the household must have at least one child under 18 and must be earning at or below 50 percent of area median income, which, according to the program’s website, is about $59,000 annually for family of three. Three hundred spots are reserved for “very-low-income families,” which are those that earning $30,000 a year or less.
Schaaf said Oakland Resilient Families is one of the country’s largest guaranteed income pilots. The announcement comes just weeks after Stockton, California, released the promising first-year results of a similar program headed by its former mayor Michael Tubbs.
“I am hella proud of Oakland today,” Tubbs said. “I think the mayor (Schaaf) said it best: Part of this demonstration in Oakland and part of the demonstrations throughout this nation is really to reckon with the fact that we understand the issue isn’t that people don’t work, the issue isn’t that people don’t want to work; the issue is that the economy does not work for people.”
He continued: “I especially appreciate the explicit focus on racial justice in this demonstration … We understand that civil rights has always been about protection, not just from police brutality, but also from the brutality of poverty.”
Poverty is not a personal failure, it’s a policy failure. Today in Oakland we launched a guaranteed income pilot for 600 low-income BIPOC families to receive $500 a month for 18 months, no strings. We want to change the narrative. pic.twitter.com/78fDjUj4G1
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) March 23, 2021
Applications will be available later this spring, and eligible families will be selected at random. None of the money for Oakland Resilient Families will come from taxpayers. Rather it will come from Blue Meridian Partners, a philanthropic partner. More details about the program can be found online at oaklandresilientfamilies.org.