The Mayor of Oakland, California, is rolling out a program that awards low-income black families, foreign nationals, and the homeless $500 a month — and apparently excluding white households living in equivalent poverty.
According to CNN, the “Oakland Resilient Families Program” will give the extra cash to families with at least one minor child, selecting recipients at random from an online database:
To qualify for the Oakland Resilient Families payments, families must have at least one child under 18. Their income must be at or below the area’s median income: around $59,000 for a family of three.
But half of the available spots will be reserved for very low-income families — those who earn below 138% of the federal poverty level — or, about $30,000 per year for a family of three.
An online, multilingual screening form will be released later this spring and summer, after which families will be chosen at random to receive the payments. The program is also open to undocumented and/or unsheltered families. Because recipients will not be required to work for the payments, the money is not considered taxable income.
The program is reportedly funded by private donations rather than tax collection, and it will select 600 families for the payouts over a year and a half — a total of $9,000 per family, distributing $5.4 million out of $6.75 million the organization has raised so far.
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Mayor Libby Schaaf praised the “guaranteed income” program in a statement: “The poverty we all witness today is not a personal failure, it is a systems failure. Guaranteed income is one of the most promising tools for systems change, racial equity, and economic mobility we’ve seen in decades.”
Schaaf’s (pictured) reference to “racial equity” indicates adherence to the rising trend of antiracism, a concept popularized by Ibram X. Kendi which argues in favor of racial discrimination for the purposes of achieving equal outcomes between demographics. The city’s statement makes this explicit, declaring one of its objectives is to “eliminate racial disparities.” It points to a data survey titled the Oakland Equity Index, which reports, on average, the city’s white households earn considerably more than its minority households:
The median income for White households was highest ($110,000) and the median income for African American households was lowest ($37,500). The median income for Asian households ($76,000) was similar to the citywide median income ($73,200), while Latino households fell below the citywide median with a median income of $65,000. The median income for White households was 2.93 times the median income of African American households.
The Daily Mail notes that, according to the Oakland Equity Index, “around 8 percent of the city’s white residents, approximately 10,000 people, live in poverty.” The city’s statement does not make any mention of assistance for poor white families. The statement only designates “BIPOC families” (black and indigenous people of color) as recipients.
Other guaranteed income programs have been instituted in Stockton, California, in 2019, where 100 dwellers receive $500 payments without strings attached. The report also noted three other states have also created similar handouts in Newark, New Jersey; and Atlanta, Georgia.
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