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Sacramento's own guaranteed basic income program passes six month mark

Lisa Baker, mom of five, said the direct investment program has allowed her to catch up on bills and start thinking about savings.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento has its own guaranteed income program experiment, which has been underway since June 2021. It’s called "DIPS" which stands for direct investment program in Sacramento.

One of the recipients, Lisa Baker, regularly puts food out on a table outside next to her apartment to help those who need it.

She says she does this because she’s been where they are.

“On my table I have some canned goods. I do get bulk of cereal. I have rice,” she explains, pointing to the free grocery items.

Now, her household is one of the 100 in Sacramento County receiving $300 a month facilitated by United Way of California Capital Region.

“I was struggling with work because of the pandemic. I have a child who has compromised health conditions so there I was also having anxiety about going out and bringing back this virus to her,” Baker said.

She has four additional children. Baker explained what the additional money can mean to someone like her.

“To me it’s a lot. It’s a lot to someone who might not be able to afford groceries. It’s a lot to someone who might have a huge light bill at the moment,” she said.

Cameron Collins is the Social Justice Investments manager for United Way California Capital Region. He explained where the money goes.

“Most of the data we have on programs like this show people spend that money on things you would think. Rent, utilities, childcare. And those are 90% of what our participants cited as their number one costs,” said Collins.

He explained how he responds when people call such a program radical.

“It might feel radical. We’re not used to dignifying people by just trusting them to spend money the way they should be treated. We’re used to in this country considering poverty a personal failure. And it’s not. It’s a systemic failure,” said Collins.

He said it’s a program that truly has no strings attached.

“When it’s no strings attached, there’s a trust, an implicit trust there. We’re giving you this money because you’re human. That’s why you deserve it,” explained Collins.

He said he knows many people have interest in the program and an expansion is underway.

“Back in August, Mayor Steinberg recommended us for additional funding from the American Rescue Plan funding that he got. We’re working with the city right now to finalize those details. But we’re hoping right now to expand to an additional 100 households,” Collins said.

He explained more is on the way but there’s no information just yet.

'Right now, DIPS 1 cohort is full. It’s been full since June. But we are working with the city right now to expand it.”

Collins said anyone interested in supporting the program can do so by going to yourunitedway.org.

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