By TOM GANTERT
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – A group that oversees an Oakland guaranteed income program funded 100% by private donations says that taxpayer money will eventually be needed for a sustainable future.
Oakland Resilient Families is funded by private philanthropic donations and announced that it received a $1 million gift from the San Francisco Foundation that will extend a pilot program for an additional six months. Three hundred families will receive $500 per month.
The pilot program began in January 2022 and will now be extended through June 2023. To be eligible, participants have to be below a certain income limit. For example, a household of two must earn less than $20,040 to qualify.
Leaders from Uptogether, a national organization that is overseeing the guaranteed income program, say private donations will not be enough to keep it going.
“Our work demonstrates that government and philanthropy need to support significant systemic changes to prioritize sustained and deep direct investment in communities experiencing financial hardship,” UpTogether CEO Jesús Gerena said in an email to The Center Square. “Philanthropy has and will continue to play a critical role in helping us not only demonstrate the effectiveness of direct investment but also in supporting the narrative and cultural shifts necessary for systemic change to take place. We recognize that every level of government (local, state, federal) has a role to play in making direct cash investment a long-term reality and also stopping policies and practices that hinder economic mobility and wealth-building activities. We are eager to engage with our partners in having these community-centered and equity-focused conversations.”
Oakland’s is one of several guaranteed income programs started across the country over the past three years. In the Los Angeles area, there are three guaranteed income programs. Los Angeles County has a program that gives 1,000 individuals $1,000 a month and another one that gives $1,000 a month to 300 people. The city of Los Angeles has its own guaranteed income program that pays $1,000 per month to 3,200 people.
The funding models vary from strictly government-funded to purely private donations to a blend of public and private. Many of the guaranteed income programs were paid for with funds from the $4.5 trillion in total COVID-19 aid approved by Congress in 2020 and 2021.