California City Debuts Universal Basic Income Program To Help Residents Survive Economic Crisis

Judy van der Velden /

At the height of the pandemic in the U.S., politicians from Andrew Yang to Bernie Sanders touted the benefits of some form of Universal Basic Income to help Americans through unprecedented times. The childcare tax stimulus that parents will receive as part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan is the closest the federal government has offered to universal basic income.

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The City of Oakland, California, however, is seeking to help its low-income and marginalized residents with one of the nation’s largest universal basic income (UBI) programs. Mayor Libby Schaaf announced a pilot program where $6.7 million provided by philanthropic organization Blue Meridian Partners will go out to 600 families in need. Families will be selected in a random drawing based on the eligible pool of applicants, Fox KTVU reports. 

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The program, called Oakland Resilient Families, is a partnership between two organizations: the Family Independence Initiative and the national Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. The guaranteed income program will be offered to undocumented residents and unhoused families, reports. 

To qualify, families must identify as Black, indigenous, or people of color (POC) and must be earning at or below 50% of the area median income, Jesus Gerena, CEO of the Family Independence Initiative, explained to Fox KTVU. 

Median income for the area equals approximately $59,000 per year for a family of three. Half of the 600 spots will go to those earning below 138% of the federal poverty level for California, which is $30,305 for a family of three. The 600 families chosen to participate will receive $500 a month for 18 months, Fox News reports. 

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The program, which will first roll out in East Oakland, is the largest of its kind but not the first in the state, reports. Stockton, California, led a UBI program providing $500 a month for two years to 125 individuals earlier this month, and Marin County is launching a similar initiative, says. 

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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