The idea of a universal basic income is one of the most controversial in politics. This year, one city in the US is giving it a shot for the very first time.
Stockton, California has dealt with serious financial challenges for years now, with 25% of residents living below the poverty line. The city has officially begun sending debit cards with $500 to a select group of residents, who will continue to receive the money monthly for the next 18 months.
The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) will track and analyze how the boost of income affects residents’ financial situations and quality of life.
“The need has only been reiterated” over the last few weeks of preparation, says SEED director Sukhi Samra. “Folks are ready to use this money to pay bills, to save for the future, to pay off debt and pay for medicine.”
So where’s the money coming from? In part, from a grant from the Economic Security Project, a network organization that works to fund research for these types of programs.
The program currently only includes 130 recipients. The only eligibility requirements are that residents are over 18 years old with a median household income at or below $46,033, the city’s median.
As the program unfolds, policymakers all over the country will be watching to see how it pans out.