California awards $25 million to guaranteed income programs across state

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The state of California announced Monday $25 million to underwrite the first state-funded guaranteed income pilot programs, which could set a standard for the entire nation.

The grant money will fund seven pilot programs around the state to provide checks to support 1,975 Californians, including former foster youth and pregnant women, with their basic needs.

“A guaranteed income is meant to sit alongside wages and to just help make ends meet,” said Natalie Foster of the Economic Security Project.

The recipients will get from $600 to $1,200 a month for a period of 12 to 18 months.

For pregnant women who are low income the guaranteed income will provide critical financial and emotional stress relief.

“Pregnant women have a lot of doctor’s appointments and health concerns as well as work that they juggle and having a guaranteed income, meaning checks that come in the door with no strings attached, that can be spent on whatever comes up that month are incredibly important,” said Foster.

iFoster, a child advocacy, educational and resources organization, will receive $4,760,000 to provide 300 former foster youth with $750 per month for 18 months in rural and urban communities statewide.

“We go from caring for them to shoving them out the door and expecting them to be fully independent and financially stable the second they leave foster care,” executive director Serita Cox.

Experience with so called “aged-out” foster children proves they need a financial off ramp, not a cliff.

“Fifty percent of them will be unemployed. Fifty percent of them will have had periods of homelessness within 4 years of aging out,” said Cox.

Foster children might not get as much financial help from their families.

Cox said under the program “gives them a little bit of income, so they can achieve self-sufficiency.”

Berkeley’s Urban Institute will evaluate the programs to build on previous experiments, especially the one in Stockton.

“So, having California’s leadership is really important to making sure someday,  there’s a Federal Guaranteed Income,” said Foster.

Over the course of 18 months, the San Francisco Human Services Agency will disburse $3.3 million to 150 former foster youth. They youth will be given $1,200 per month.

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