California county helps fund universal basic income program restricted to women of color
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A county in California is helping fund a universal basic income (UBI) program that restricts participation based on race and sex.
Officials in Marin County, California, have launched a UBI program in the county designed to give $1,000 a month to 125 qualifying residents for two years in partnership with the Marin Community Foundation.
The county is contributing $400,000 to the program, with the remainder of the estimated $3 million coming from the foundation.
The program is slightly modeled after a similar one that ran from February 2019 to February 2020 in Stockton, California. The Marin County program, however, has a couple of conditions for residents to receive payments: recipients must be women of color with a child under the age of 18.
Chief executive of the Marin Community Foundation Thomas Peters confirmed the restriction to the Marin Independent in an email.
"This first cohort will focus on low-income moms of color," Peters said. "We're starting with those moms with the greatest aggregate of challenges: low income, young children and facing the daily travails and insults of overt and covert racial discrimination."
County supervisors unanimously voted to greenlight the project last week.
"The ultimate endgame for this demonstration project is to have an example of how cash aid can be really helpful in terms of alleviating poverty, to test the usefulness of this approach to addressing poverty and addressing some of the racial inequities that we know exist in the county and beyond," Marin Community Foundation Vice President Jonathan Logan told county supervisers before the vote, according to the Independent.
Logan was joined in addressing the board by Marin County Director of Economic Opportunity Barbara Clifton Zarate and the county’s equity officer Anyania Muse.
Zarate said the participants in the county program are selected at random from 4,600 people who have received financial aid from the Oakland nonprofit, the Family Independence Initiative (FII).
Eligible participants are individuals who earn a living below the area’s self-sufficiency standard as set by a different Oakland nonprofit, the Insight Center for Economic Development, according to Zarate.
The program will also provide "wrap-around" services for participants, including job training and placement programs.
The measure saw criticism from a city supervisor, David Connolly, who voted for it but said the program does not apply to his district.
"When I hear the geographic specificity, I'm hearing my district, District 1, is not included," he said. "I know there are many single moms who would otherwise fit the criteria for the need and opportunity presented by this program."
UBI programs have become a hot topic of discussion by progressives after it was popularized by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
Proponents of UBI say the practice would help alleviate financial stress for people whose jobs are being replaced by automation and those who can’t work.
Opponents say that the program would harm the national economy, as well as state and local ones, and devalue the dollar.