After encouraging preliminary results from Stockton’s universal basic income (UBI) experiment, another California city is testing out guaranteed income as a strategy for economic empowerment for marginalized groups. The City of Oakland announced this week that it will provide $500 a month to 600 low-income families for at least 18 months as part of its Oakland Resilient Families program.
As with other UBI programs, the families will have complete autonomy over how and when they use the money, but researchers will record how the funds are spent and the corresponding effects on participants’ lives.
The participating families will be randomly drawn from a pool of eligible Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) families whose income is at or below 50 percent of the area median income, or about $59,000 for a family of three. The experiment will focus on BIPOC families as they experience the greatest wealth disparities in Oakland. Half the spots will be set aside for very low-income families, or households of three who make $30,000 or less per year.
The funding for the program is coming from philanthropic partner Blue Meridian Partners. Oakland’s initiative has been largely inspired by the previously mentioned successful UBI program in Stockton. Results show that over the first 12 months of the program, unemployment rates among participating individuals dropped at twice the rate of the city as a whole.