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Mountain View prepares to roll out basic income pilot program giving select residents $500 a month

City Council set to discuss UBi program details at Tuesday, Sept. 28, meeting

Mountain View's guaranteed basic income program, proposed by Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga, could provide $500 monthly pay to low-income families.

The city of Mountain View is looking to give low-income families $500 monthly checks with no strings attached, joining a growing number of cities across the country testing out a guaranteed basic income program.

The plan is to use $1 million in federal stimulus funds to launch a financial assistance pilot in the mold of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which has gained popularity in recent years as a means to help families in need. In sharp contrast to more rigid financial aid programs, the monthly cash can be spent however the recipient sees fit.

Dozens of cities across the country are considering similar programs, creating an "income floor" for residents to have more financial stability while paying for basic needs like housing and food. Though UBI was once a fringe idea, several recent studies have found promising results showing that a guaranteed income can improve employment and reduce financial dependence on friends and family.

City officials are proposing that Mountain View's guaranteed income pilot provide $500 monthly payments to extremely low-income families who are making less than 30% of the county's median income, along with custodial caregivers of children under 18 years old. Participation will be around 166 families for one year, which the city could extend to two years if it can find more money to pay for the program.

Census data shows there are roughly 6,500 families that would meet the program's income eligibility, currently capped at $49,700 for a family of four, as well as 1,000 households with children that are receiving cash-based public assistance including Supplemental Security Income. These families are more likely to reside in census tracts where the Latino population is higher and where COVID-19 cases have proliferated.

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Most basic income programs rolling out in higher-cost areas are offering $1,000 a month to participating families, twice as much as what's being proposed in Mountain View. Last year, Santa Clara County launched a basic income program for young adults aging out of the foster youth system, providing $1,000 in monthly checks to 72 participants. The results have been positive enough that county supervisors voted in June to extend the program past its one-year life.

"The funding was critical intervention to prevent youth from destabilizing," said Jimenez Perez, the pilot's program manager, in a statement at the time. "It allowed many to stay in housing or stay in school. Now, the focus of the extra time granted by the extension is for them to really come up with a plan for long-term stability. This is a tremendous and important junction in their lives."

One participant in the county program said she was exiting the foster youth system around the time she needed to move out of her college dorm due to the pandemic. She said the extra cash from the basic income program helped her find a room and stay in the area to finish her degree.

Mountain View Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga proposed bringing a guaranteed basic income pilot to the city in April, suggesting that $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds go toward paying for the program. The City Council has approved earmarking the funds, and are scheduled to weigh in on the details of a basic income program at the Tuesday, Sept. 28, council meeting.

At the time, Abe-Koga said the funds could be a direct route to stabilizing families in need of pandemic relief, and that it could also be a long-term solution to helping those who are struggling to pay for housing. She said she has been interested in the benefits of a UBI program since former presidential candidate Andrew Yang made it a part of his 2020 campaign platform.

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Yang spoke at a rally in Mountain View on Saturday, Sept. 25, to promote basic income programs and highlight Mountain View's proposal. He pointed to the groundswell of support for UBI -- which surveys show a majority of U.S. voters now back -- and growing evidence that the money is largely spent on necessities like housing, food and gas.

Though $1 million was earmarked for the program, the total cost is expected to be much higher.

City officials say the goal is to help residents pay for their basic needs and give them the financial flexibility they need to find full-time jobs, but it's also an opportunity to study how much of a difference the $500 checks can make. The proposal to be discussed Tuesday calls for spending an extra $250,000 to hire a firm that will research the results, surveying 110 participants as well as 132 nonparticipants as a control group.

City staffers believe another $150,000 will be needed to help nonprofits administer the pilot, and that up to $200,000 should be set aside to pay for a loss of safety net services. Participants who rely on public benefits such as CalWorks and Social Security may suddenly become ineligible with an extra $6,000 in annual income, and most cities testing basic income programs have a special fund to help offset those losses.

The total additional costs to launch the pilot are estimated to be between $500,000 and $650,000. The city is expected to seek out philanthropic funds to offset the costs of the program, and could ultimately tap into future stimulus money or the general fund to pay for it.

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Mountain View prepares to roll out basic income pilot program giving select residents $500 a month

City Council set to discuss UBi program details at Tuesday, Sept. 28, meeting

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Sep 27, 2021, 1:35 pm

The city of Mountain View is looking to give low-income families $500 monthly checks with no strings attached, joining a growing number of cities across the country testing out a guaranteed basic income program.

The plan is to use $1 million in federal stimulus funds to launch a financial assistance pilot in the mold of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which has gained popularity in recent years as a means to help families in need. In sharp contrast to more rigid financial aid programs, the monthly cash can be spent however the recipient sees fit.

Dozens of cities across the country are considering similar programs, creating an "income floor" for residents to have more financial stability while paying for basic needs like housing and food. Though UBI was once a fringe idea, several recent studies have found promising results showing that a guaranteed income can improve employment and reduce financial dependence on friends and family.

City officials are proposing that Mountain View's guaranteed income pilot provide $500 monthly payments to extremely low-income families who are making less than 30% of the county's median income, along with custodial caregivers of children under 18 years old. Participation will be around 166 families for one year, which the city could extend to two years if it can find more money to pay for the program.

Census data shows there are roughly 6,500 families that would meet the program's income eligibility, currently capped at $49,700 for a family of four, as well as 1,000 households with children that are receiving cash-based public assistance including Supplemental Security Income. These families are more likely to reside in census tracts where the Latino population is higher and where COVID-19 cases have proliferated.

Most basic income programs rolling out in higher-cost areas are offering $1,000 a month to participating families, twice as much as what's being proposed in Mountain View. Last year, Santa Clara County launched a basic income program for young adults aging out of the foster youth system, providing $1,000 in monthly checks to 72 participants. The results have been positive enough that county supervisors voted in June to extend the program past its one-year life.

"The funding was critical intervention to prevent youth from destabilizing," said Jimenez Perez, the pilot's program manager, in a statement at the time. "It allowed many to stay in housing or stay in school. Now, the focus of the extra time granted by the extension is for them to really come up with a plan for long-term stability. This is a tremendous and important junction in their lives."

One participant in the county program said she was exiting the foster youth system around the time she needed to move out of her college dorm due to the pandemic. She said the extra cash from the basic income program helped her find a room and stay in the area to finish her degree.

Mountain View Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga proposed bringing a guaranteed basic income pilot to the city in April, suggesting that $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds go toward paying for the program. The City Council has approved earmarking the funds, and are scheduled to weigh in on the details of a basic income program at the Tuesday, Sept. 28, council meeting.

At the time, Abe-Koga said the funds could be a direct route to stabilizing families in need of pandemic relief, and that it could also be a long-term solution to helping those who are struggling to pay for housing. She said she has been interested in the benefits of a UBI program since former presidential candidate Andrew Yang made it a part of his 2020 campaign platform.

Yang spoke at a rally in Mountain View on Saturday, Sept. 25, to promote basic income programs and highlight Mountain View's proposal. He pointed to the groundswell of support for UBI -- which surveys show a majority of U.S. voters now back -- and growing evidence that the money is largely spent on necessities like housing, food and gas.

Though $1 million was earmarked for the program, the total cost is expected to be much higher.

City officials say the goal is to help residents pay for their basic needs and give them the financial flexibility they need to find full-time jobs, but it's also an opportunity to study how much of a difference the $500 checks can make. The proposal to be discussed Tuesday calls for spending an extra $250,000 to hire a firm that will research the results, surveying 110 participants as well as 132 nonparticipants as a control group.

City staffers believe another $150,000 will be needed to help nonprofits administer the pilot, and that up to $200,000 should be set aside to pay for a loss of safety net services. Participants who rely on public benefits such as CalWorks and Social Security may suddenly become ineligible with an extra $6,000 in annual income, and most cities testing basic income programs have a special fund to help offset those losses.

The total additional costs to launch the pilot are estimated to be between $500,000 and $650,000. The city is expected to seek out philanthropic funds to offset the costs of the program, and could ultimately tap into future stimulus money or the general fund to pay for it.

Comments

SRB
Registered user
St. Francis Acres
on Sep 27, 2021 at 2:44 pm
SRB, St. Francis Acres
Registered user
on Sep 27, 2021 at 2:44 pm

Guaranteed Income for Administrators and Consultants? The extra administrative/research costs are obscene: 550K to 650K compared to the 1M in direct benefits to residents. Unless these additional costs can come down to earth, City should probably re-allocate the 1M to CSA or the Mountain View Solidary Fund (both programs have much lower administrative overhead while serving residents with similar needs).


Mark
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Sep 28, 2021 at 5:18 am
Mark, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2021 at 5:18 am

For families. But apparently single people will not be welcome to participate in this experiment in social equity.


Parks
Registered user
Rengstorff Park
on Sep 28, 2021 at 11:26 am
Parks, Rengstorff Park
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2021 at 11:26 am

Not sure I'd call it "Universal" if the struggling middle class is excluded, as per usual.


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Sep 28, 2021 at 9:14 pm
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2021 at 9:14 pm

Why is nobody objecting to the insane cost to administer this program?


Dan Waylonis
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Sep 28, 2021 at 10:14 pm
Dan Waylonis, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2021 at 10:14 pm

I hope that the comments here are indicative of the population of Mountain View in seeing that this program is expensive, arbitrarily administrated, and an overall bad idea. Kinda par for the course from the Mountain View City council.


DEWT
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Sep 29, 2021 at 6:17 pm
DEWT, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2021 at 6:17 pm

I agree with all the comments above. Does the city have money to throw away? Whatever happened to personal responsibility?


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2021 at 3:44 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 30, 2021 at 3:44 pm

The administrative costs are 'unsubstainable'. This means for three dollars spent - (from Revenue) - less than 2 dollars go to direct benefit of the suffering. Not quite as bad as War on Poverty as I remember, but such overhead starts to defeat the very purpose of this Public Policy design.
(I ageee @SRB)
There is also the fact that this is a one-shot program. One-time Grant and other unsustainable Revenue sources. Maybe - it will prove itself (and what - prestartup is the definition and metric of "success"). Researchers in this field - with rock solid metrics and methodology and No Ax To Grind, should be the only ones to get past a RFQ screening process. No Experience, No MV interest!
(IMO)


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