Stockton is seeking to combat poverty and income insecurity with a basic income pilot program for select residents.
The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration is a collaboration of Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition, the Economic Security Project, and the residents of Stockton.
1. The program gives unconditional cash to recipients
It’s a pilot program that will give a free monthly income to Stockton residents. The income is considered to be unconditional cash, meaning there are no work requirements and recipients will not have restrictions on how the money can be spent.
The program is expected to begin in 2019. At least, 100 Stockton residents will receive $500 a month for about 18 months.
2. Stockton is a city that’s being revitalized
It’s a city that still carries the weight of its bankruptcy issues in 2012, however, its economic rebound and diverse population are part of the reason why SEED is happening in the city.
According to TruthinAccounting.org, the city was the second most financially healthy city in California for 2016.
Part of that rank has to do with Stockton being eligible for bankruptcy protection in 2013. Stockton had debt burdens, but creditors agreed to debt relief. The analysis found that Stockton has “more than enough assets to pay its bills” and has a recovering economy.
3. The program is about combating poverty and income insecurity
The SEED program is a pilot program that is first city-led demonstration of its kind in the United States. It is unconditional money given to residents of Stockton that is meant to help combat poverty and inequality.
According to the website, the project is attempting to address problems of poverty, inequality, and widespread financial insecurity. It is also attempting to challenge assumptions about the working poor and re-imagine the social safety net.
4. The project is philanthropically funded
Donations from the Economic Security Project provided $1 million in funds toward SEED. The organization is committed to the debate on guaranteed income in the United States, and have concern stemming from the changing nature of work and automation.
Goldhirsh Foundation is also providing a matching fund of $250,000. According to their site, GoldHirsh Foundation had been exploring the concept of basic with ESP in 2016. Studies on unconditional cash transfers intrigued the organization enough to invest. Their investment comes as a way to “inspire and galvanize others” to support SEED and the exploration of a guaranteed income.
Additional contributions can be made at SEED's crowdrise page.
5. The participants have not been selected yet
According to the SEED website, they have not decided which residents will be eligible. There is no application or sign-up process. The organization is working on deciding the participation criteria and could host community discussions to ensure the program meets Stockton’s needs.