Families with young children currently living in deep poverty in Yolo County would receive monthly cash assistance under a universal basic income pilot project that county supervisors will consider on Tuesday.
A total of 31 families in the CalWORKS Housing Support Program with children under the age of two would receive monthly payments for a year, up to a maximum of $12,155 annually per family.
That cash assistance, combined with the CalWORKS grant they already receive to help with housing costs, would bring these families’ incomes up to a minimum poverty threshold ($25,658 for a family of four).
The total cost of the pilot project — $400,000 — would include $100,000 from the county’s cannabis tax revenue if county supervisors agree.
Another $100,000 has already been pledged by First 5 Yolo and a grant of $75,000 has been secured from the state’s Office of Child Abuse Prevention.
Fundraising would bring in the remaining $125,000.
Universal basic income — also known as UBI — essentially provides individuals with a monthly cash payment without a means test or work requirement.
The goal often is to alleviate poverty while replacing bureaucratic, need-based assistance programs, but also to supplement some of those programs.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (now a candidate for New York City mayor) touted UBI during his 2020 campaign.
But small jurisdictions have also implemented UBI in different forms, including the city of Stockton.
The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration began in early 2019, providing about 130 residents making less than the city’s median income with $500 a month with no strings attached.
University researchers who evaluated the program found that nearly 40 percent of tracked spending went to food, but the money also covered transportation, utilities, healthcare, debt and more.
Meanwhile, the city of Compton is home to Compton Pledge, which is providing around 800 residents with between $300 and $600 per month with no strings attached.
No public funds are being used in that program; rather private donors are financing the program.
In proposing a pilot project for Yolo County, staff note in a presentation prepared for Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that Yolo has the third highest poverty rate in the state at 20.6 percent. Only Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties have higher rates.
“Through a UBI pilot program, (the Health and Human Services Agency) seeks to combat this problem in our community by providing financial assistance to the poorest families with young children in the county so that they can afford basic needs and be placed on a path to longterm financial empowerment,” the staff report said.
The board will consider the proposal during its Tuesday meeting.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. and can be access by the public via Zoom at https://yolocounty.zoom.us/j/112072974 or by phone at 1-408-638-0968, meeting ID 112 072 974.
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