125 mothers in Marin County will begin receiving $1000 a month in basic income for two years

The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin County Civic Center photographed in San Rafael, Calif., Friday, May 11, 2018.Mason Trinca / Special to The Chronicle

The Marin program will provide $1,000 monthly grants to 125 low wage-earning women of color who are raising at least one child in Marin County.

By Joshua Sabatini 

Marin County will become the second Bay Area community experimenting with a guaranteed income program designed to improve the fortunes of lower-income residents.

The Marin program will provide $1,000 monthly grants to 125 low wage-earning women of color who are raising at least one child in Marin County.

It is being run not by the county but by the non-profit Marin Community Foundation. However, the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to contribute $400,000 to the program. The foundation will contribute $3 million as well as operating and evaluating the two-year program.

The Oakland and Marin County programs, which offer unrestricted monthly cash payments, follow on the success of a Stockton program that was one of the nation’s first. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced Tuesday that the city would launch one of the nation’s largest guaranteed income programs — giving $500 a month to 600 low-income families — this spring or summer. The Oakland program will last 18 months. The Stockton program, which provided $500 every month to 125 people for 24 months, was widely considered a success.

The Marin Community Foundation is a 30-year-old philanthropic group largely funded by the Buck Family Fund with a stated goal to “improve the human condition, embrace diversity, promote a humane and democratic society, and enhance the community’s quality of life, now and for future generations.”

Johnathan Logan, vice president of community engagement, said the foundation decided to try a guaranteed income program after spending two years talking to 93 low-income mothers struggling to get by and improve their lives in costly Marin County.

“We heard stories of resilience, we heard stories of hope and optimism, especially for their children but we also heard about the challenges they’re facing,” he said.

“We decided to do something about it. Unrestricted cash came up several times as a possible approach to supporting these moms.”

Those selected for the program will be mothers of at least one child younger than 17, and women of color, Logan said, and they’ll be chosen randomly from across the county. The foundation plans to start the program in May. While most of the previous universal guaranteed income programs made monthly payments of $500, the Marin program will pay twice as much.

The program will also offer supportive services like job training and counseling, which is what Marin County’s contribution will pay for. Other Marin organizations will also contribute, Logan said.

“Marin County is an expensive county to live in and to make ends meet,” he said. “We felt $1,000 would be an appropriate amount given the high cost of living and especially housing.”


Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: mcabanatuan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ctuan

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