600 families in Oakland now receive $500 a month in guaranteed income

A total of 600 families in Oakland now receive a guaranteed income through Oakland Resilient Families, marking one of the nation’s largest demonstrations of guaranteed income as fully operational.

That's after city officials announced on Wednesday that an additional 300 households selected from a citywide pool last month will now be able to participate in phase 2 of the program, meaning they can now receive their first of 18 monthly payments of $500 a month. 

In a statement from the mayor's office, access to a total of $9,000 — which families can use however they’d like — is life-changing and a bridge away from debt-inducing cycles that can stunt economic growth in historically under-served communities.   

 The Oakland Resilient Families pilot is a collaboration between the nonprofit UpTogether, Oakland Thrives, and Mayors for Guaranteed Income  — a partnership formed to fulfill Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s pledge to bring a guaranteed income program to the city.

At a news conference in October to announce the launch of phase 2 of the Oakland pilot, former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs addressed criticism that providing a guaranteed income disincentivizes people from working. 

MORE: As Oakland expands guaranteed income program, early recipients call it success

 "What we've seen from these pilots is that people don't stop working. People are just able to negotiate the type of work conditions they can tolerate," Tubbs said. "People don't get lazy. People actually become more productive and are able to pay for childcare or to get their car fixed or do the things necessary to get to work. People are able to leave part-time jobs and work a full-time job." 

 To ensure a fair and equitable selection process, the 600 participating households in the Oakland Resilient Families pilot were chosen through two random lotteries of eligible applicants — one lottery for each phase. Phase 2 participants were selected last month. That phase was open to anyone who lives in Oakland, has a child living in the home, and an annual household income of no more than 138% of the Federal Poverty Line. 

 There were similar eligibility requirements for the Phase 1 launch except the household income requirement was at or below 50% of the area median income, and families had to live in one of five East Oakland census tracts — roughly one square mile in City Council Districts 6 and 7. 

The mayor's office said the purpose of keeping the geographic footprint small is to examine the impact direct cash has not only on individual households, but on the broader community, too.

 The pilot was intentionally designed to address the greatest wealth disparities in the city. According to the Oakland Equity Index, 26% of African Americans, 22% of Latinos, and 15% of Asians live at or below the Federal Poverty Line, compared to 8% of Whites.

 For the households randomly selected for Oakland Resilient Families, 43% of the 600 participants identify as Black or African American and 38% as Hispanic or Latino. 7% are Asian. 

 Participants are also overwhelmingly female, with nearly 83%.