San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on Wednesday that the city would launch a new 18-month guaranteed income program for low-income transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, and intersex residents in the city.
The program would join other short-term and pilot guaranteed income programs in the city, including a $6 million universal basic income (UBI) for poorer artists in the city launchesd in 2020 during the pandemic. The program would also be added to the growing list of past and present UBI programs in the state, with the program joining ones launched by Stockton, Compton, Oakland, and Los Angeles. Similar statewide programs have been attempted, but failed to pass out of the Assembly and Senate in Sacramento.
San Francisco’s new program, Guaranteed Income for Transgender People (GIFT), would give $1,200 a month to 55 transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, or intersex residents over an 18 month span, starting in January 2023. While GIFT would have no strings attached, those wishing to apply have to be over the age of 18, live in San Francisco, and have a monthly income under $600. All applicants also must show a photo ID, prove their residence and income, and have to fill out a survey every three months until the program ends in June 2024.
Breed said she created GIFT to help transgender individuals, with 29% of transgender people living under the poverty line, and twice as likely to be out of work than non-trans people. She also noted that the program is one of many that targets a demographic that has higher rates of poverty and discrimination, with the guaranteed income acting as a means to help those residents out of poverty.
“We know that our trans communities experience much higher rates of poverty and discrimination, so this program will target support to lift individuals in this community up,” Mayor Breed said in a statement on Thursday. “We will keep building on programs like this to provide those in the greatest need with the financial resources and services to help them thrive.”
In a series of tweets, she added, “The GIFT program is part of the City’s larger effort to offer temporary income as a way to address poverty. It’s the first in the country to focus on transgender communities. I am so proud of how this city continues to lead in supporting and celebrating our LGBTQ community. This week is a good example of our work. Yesterday, San Francisco launched GIFT: a new guaranteed income program for trans individuals.”
The GIFT program is part of the City's larger effort to offer temporary income as a way to address poverty. It's the first in the country to focus on transgender communities and is now accepting applications through Dec 15, 2022: https://t.co/Wk8VjygZ5z
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) November 17, 2022
A new UBI program in San Francisco
A statement by the city of San Francisco added that “GIFT is one of several programs the City is developing, implementing, and evaluating to identify how to best support San Francisco residents and promote economic stability and recovery.”
However, while some in the city praised the new program, others pointed out that the GIFT program may actually hurt those going into the program.
“$1,200 a month extra sounds great, until you remember that GIFT will take those who take it off of federal and other programs designed to help those with low-income,” Cheryl Keating, a law researcher who has studied UBI proposals and programs in the United States and Canada, told the Globe Thursday. “More than that, landlords will now know they suddenly have a lot more to pay and can raise the rent. And then, when the program ends in 2024, they may have been helped some in the previous 18 months, reality comes back and now they are stuck with much higher rent and other likely higher costs.”
“Those applying to this program really need to do the math before hand. Not over 18 months, but over several years, if this bump in income will actually help them long term instead of short term. The dangerous thing about UBI programs is the lack of follow up a few years after the program ended to see the longer-term effects, like if the person getting the money just spent it all, or they went to get a degree or better job or something.”
“‘GIFT’ is really what it is spelling out – it’s a gift. What it isn’t is a good long-term solution to remove poverty.”
Applications for GIFT will be accepted through late December.
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