STOCKTON (CBS13) — Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs is tackling poverty head-on by providing economic security for many households for at least one year as part of a new pilot program.
The mayor secured $1 million from a network of researchers, organizers and technologists who are committed to helping people succeed.
Like many residents in Stockton, the bulk of Yolanda Lopez’s hard-earned paycheck doesn’t go directly into her bank account. Instead, it goes somewhere else.
“Pay the bills, usually, for food, for utilities and stuff,” she said.
Under Stockton’s new SEED project, introduced by Tubbs, families like the Lopez’s won’t have to be strapped for cash. Families selected to participate will be given $500 a month for whatever they want, including planning for retirement.
“I think we’ll see businesses started. I think we’ll see families stabilize. I think will be able to see people afford the rent. I think will start to see people say for a rainy day,” said Tubbs.
SEED stands for Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration. It’s a guaranteed basic income pilot program that is already being used in the Bay Area and in Ontario, Canada.
“I think it would be a tremendous asset to the families. A lot of families are struggling with their PG&E bills, you know, cost of living has gone up, they just can’t afford to keep up,” said Stockton resident Virginia Gorman.
The program will evaluate how the money can improve economic security. One marriage and family therapist says an extra $500 a month will help empower people to start planning for a better tomorrow.
“Despite what many people think, having a little bit of extra money often gives people freedom. It kind of opens up opportunity in their mind to take chances in life,”
The mayor plans a listening tour and an open call for comment on the new project. Once the city decides who’s eligible and how families can apply, the money will be sent out as early as August 2018.