In 2019, the city of Stockton, California, became the first city in America to launch an experimental guaranteed income program that would provide 125 residents with monthly payments of $500 over the course of 18 months, with no strings attached. From the first results of Stockton’s basic income experiment, we know that participants mainly used the $500 they received each month for food, utility bills, and clothing. In other words, the money was used solely to cover basic needs.
At a time where the pandemic has left millions of Americans unemployed, a basic income program is exactly the kind of thing that is needed to help people stay afloat financially. Following in Stockton’s footsteps, the city of Compton, California, has launched its own basic income program called the Compton Pledge that will aim to assist 800 people through no-strings-attached direct cash payments over two years.
The guaranteed income pilot was launched in partnership with the Jain Family Institute, a nonprofit research institution, and the charity Fund for Guaranteed Income. The expectation is that it will start in late 2020, with 800 randomly picked people receiving a monthly payment of “at least several hundred dollars.”
So far, the Compton Pledge has already raised more than $2.5 million in private donations, all of which will go to the Fund for Guaranteed Income, which will then move those funds to the 800 recipients. Ultimately, the Compton Pledge aims to raise $8.1 million.
The Compton Pledge bills itself as the largest guaranteed income initiative over such a long time period at the city level in the US, though it’s not clear if that’s measured in terms of participants or funds. The most well-known example of a UBI may be the Alaska Permanent Fund, a statewide program that gives residents up to $2,000 a year, depending on the state’s oil revenue, and Andrew Yang’s proposal to give Americans $1,000 a month when he ran for the Democratic presidential nominee.
Mayor Brown, who is a founder member of the Mayors for Guaranteed Income, was raised by a single mother. In a statement, she acknowledged how a guaranteed income could have helped her family through tough times, and she hopes it will for Compton residents.