California gets the first state-funded, no restrictions, $1000 guaranteed income for foster youth and pregnant people

Karen Madej

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Republicans and Democrats agreed on this program. They must have realized the time has come to support, no strings attached, the people in our communities who need a leg up. It’s not a handout but an act of helping someone improve their situation.

Kids just out of foster care will have options with a $1,000 per month income. Some expectant mothers can eat healthy food as well as pay the rent and bills.

Scott Santens has fought for Universal Basic Income for many years. I know because I’ve followed him. He must be delighted California - the most enlightened state - has granted a state-paid guaranteed income for foster youth and pregnant women in particular.

SEED program

Mayor Michael Tubbs launched his privately-funded guaranteed income program on March 9, 2020.

The timely experiment began when many Black and Brown people wouldn’t have survived sheltering in place without $500 per month.

“The $500 allowed essential workers and whole families to be able to shelter in place and follow public health guidelines.” Amy Castro Baker

The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) funded the program. Sukhi Samra, the executive director, spoke about how the pandemic exposed fragile American households. Primarily Black and Brown families who lived from paycheck to paycheck.

What the program did for people, as Michael Tubbs so eloquently said, was unlock time and possibilities.

Other cash payments

Even back in July 2020, Senator Mitt Romney called for every American to get cash payments. Senators Biden and Harris proposed anyone who earned less than $120,000 should receive $2,000 per month throughout the pandemic.

Coincidentally, the Whitehouse has also rolled out its $15 billion expanded Child Tax Credit for 60 million children this month. The guaranteed income payment is expected to last through December.

The first state-funded guaranteed income

When Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the bill, California will have the first crack at the $35 million pot. Other cities and counties can apply for existing or new pilots that prioritize youths fresh out of foster care and mums-to-be.

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These payments mean teenagers leaving foster care might stand a chance of studying for a better than minimum wage job.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) offers college support programs. The Educational Services and Support Division makes sure all foster youths have access to further education. One in particular; Next Up offers everything a youth leaving foster care would need to get their college education.

As for pregnant people, yes people - anyone with a uterus and ovaries can get pregnant. According to Cal Matters, San Francisco is offering 150 Black and Pacific Islander pregnant women $1,000 per month.

A person who was born male and is living as a man cannot get pregnant. However, some transgender men and nonbinary people can. Medical News Today

Some good has come of the pandemic

It shined a spotlight on the hardest-hit areas of populations. Folks who were in trouble before COVID-19 hit them, then had to self-isolate from their minimum wage essential worker jobs without pay.

“There’s a plausible case to be made that the more generous you make unemployment benefits, the less anxious people are to get back to work.” Matt Zwolinski Director of the Center for Ethics, Economics and Public Policy at UC San Diego

Libby Schaaf, Oakland’s mayor, announced a privately funded $6.75m program. The latest in California as of March 2021. The mayor believes the unconditional payment of $500 will bring about the most promising means of change for systems, racial equality, and economic mobility.

“We have designed this demonstration project to add the body of evidence, and to begin this relentless campaign to adopt a guaranteed income federally,” Schaaf said.

Hope

California is a beam of hope for all Americans who could use a leg up out of their never-ending cycle of food insecurity and paying the rent and other essential bills.

With more pilot schemes starting, the people made and kept poor because of their gender, their race, their situation, or a combination of all three, may soon see their time unlocked and life-changing possibilities. Perhaps, hope for a better life.

Could Scott Santens and Libby Schaaf's dream of a new world of financial freedom finally come true?

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Resources

California Moves to be First State to Fund Pilot Universal Basic Income

Oakland, California’s progressive mayor launches $500 guaranteed basic income to selected low-income families of color

Coronavirus pandemic puts a spotlight on Stockton’s guaranteed income experiment

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Karen Madej is a writer and editor for several publications on various platforms. She enjoys writing about politics and climate change. Her goal is to help feed as many homeless people as possible and campaign for Universal Basic Income at every opportunity, while also giving the UK government a hard time through petitions.

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