Oakland Launches Guaranteed Income Program to Combat Poverty

(USA Features) The city of Oakland, Calif., has launched a basic guaranteed income pilot program with an eye towards expanding it if it is successful.

“A guaranteed income is predicated on the understanding that people are the experts in their own lives, and that the solutions to poverty are being created by the communities experiencing it,” the city’s website for the program, called Oakland Resilient Families, says.

“This unconditional, no-strings-attached income is meant to enhance, rather than replace, the existing social safety net by providing families with the flexibility to decide how best to meet their needs,” the site adds.

Selected residents will receive a monthly stipend of $500 “with no strings attached” for 18 months. But the program appears aimed only at persons of color.

“Oakland Resilient Families will provide 600 randomly selected Oakland families (with an intentional focus on groups with the greatest wealth disparities per the Oakland Equity Index) with low incomes and at least 1 child under 18 a guaranteed income of $500 per month for at least 18 months,” the site says.

“BIPOC (black, indigenous and people color) families in Oakland and the nation experience generational wealth inequities rooted in ongoing systemic racism,” the site continues. “The movement for a guaranteed income as a tool for racial and gender equity dates back to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party.”

There is no hard data proving that there is ‘systemic racism’ in the U.S., critics argue, noting that Oakland’s program appears blatantly — and unconstitutionally — racist on its face.

“Our vision is an Oakland that has closed the racial wealth gap and where all families thrive,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in March.