Oakland’s low-income residents of color will be given $500 monthly checks with no conditions. The program seeks to create more equity in the city.
On Tuesday, the mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, announced a privately funded program providing low-income families of color with $500 per month. And there are no rules for families on how they can spend the money.
According to CBS News, the program comes from the city’s recent attempts to help build economic mobility and health amongst impoverished communities of color. The “guarantee income” program provides a monthly stipend to families. It is one of the many initiatives that are a part of a bigger national campaign working toward creating a federal guaranteed income program.
“We have designed this demonstration project to add to the body of evidence and to begin this relentless campaign to adopt a guaranteed income federally,” Schaaf said of the initiative “Oakland Resilient Families.”
The program has raised $6.75 million from private donors, including Blue Meridian Partners, a country-wide philanthropy group. To qualify for the program, an individual must have at least one child under the age of 18 and an income at or below 50 percent of the area median income, CBS News reports. Half of the spots have been given to people who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
Some people have taken issue with the fact that the program is targeted toward communities of color, excluding white families in Oakland. According to Oakland Equity Index, the program is for Oakland residents of color because white families in Oakland, on average, make about three times as much a year as Black households. The program also piggy-backs off The Black Panther Party’s political movement from the 1960s, the outlet reports.
“Guaranteed income has been a goal of the Black Panther platform since its founding,” said Jesús Gerena, CEO of Family Independence Initiative, a partner of Oakland’s program. “Direct investment in the community in response to systemic injustices isn’t new.”