March 26, 2021

Oakland debuted its universal income program. Here’s who could get the money.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced details for the city’s new guaranteed income program Tuesday, solidifying…

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced details for the city’s new guaranteed income program Tuesday, solidifying plans to provide monthly payments to Oakland families.

The pilot program will be one of the nation’s largest, with 600 families able to receive $500 a month for 18 months. The money does not come with job requirements or other conditions for those who receive it.

Families will need to meet basic income requirements and can begin applying to the program later this spring. Participants will be selected randomly and money could hit bank accounts as early as the summer.


Philanthropic organization Blue Meridian Partners will provide the $6.7 million needed to support the program. Oakland Resilient Families is a partnership with the Family Independence Initiative and the national Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and is open to both undocumented residents and unhoused families.

Eligible families must be low-income and identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color.

Jesus Gerena, the CEO of the Family Independence Initiative, explained to KTVU that people must be earning at or below 50% of the area median income, which is about $59,000 per year for a family of three. Half the spots are reserved for very low income, earning less than 138% of the federal poverty level, which is about $30,000 a year.

He said they’ll be targeting East Oakland first before moving onto broader Oakland.

The city of Stockton led one of the first universal basic income programs, providing $500 every month to 125 people. Marin County is also set to launch a similar program this week, and San Francisco voted in December to study a universal basic income pilot program.