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Applications are now being accepted for Oakland’s guaranteed basic income pilot program, city officials announced.

Three hundred East Oakland families will soon each get $500 a month for 18 months as part of Phase 1 of the program, which is called Oakland Resilient Families.

Residents can apply regardless of documentation status. Phase 1 is open to families with at least one minor child and income at or below 50 percent of the area median income who live in a roughly one-square-mile area in East Oakland.

The area is bordered roughly by Havenscourt Boulevard in the north, 94th Avenue in the south, International Boulevard in the west and MacArthur Boulevard on the east.

“Poverty is not a personal failure,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “It is a policy failure.”

She called guaranteed income “one of the most promising tools for systems change, racial equity and economic mobility” in decades.

The city of Stockton has seen successes with its guaranteed income pilot program. Oakland officials would like to see a federal program.

June 30 deadline

Oakland residents can apply to Phase 1 of the program until 5 p.m. June 30. The application, which can be found online, is accessible in English and Spanish.

To get help, residents can call the mayor’s office at 510-238-3141 or contact the offices of either Councilmember Treva Reid at 510-238-7007 or Councilmember Loren Taylor at 510-238-7006. Reid and Taylor each represent part of the area in Phase 1 of the pilot.

A live person will also answer questions from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday at the toll-free number 878-444-2932.

Phase 2 will involve 300 more families from every part of Oakland. Phase 2 is expected to open for applications this summer.

“For many of our low-income residents in East Oakland an additional $500 means having enough money to purchase healthy groceries, pay for proper child-care, maintain adequate housing, and/or secure other tools that will not only economically advance their families but our community as a whole.”

Councilmember Treva Reid

“For many of our low-income residents in East Oakland an additional $500 means having enough money to purchase healthy groceries, pay for proper child-care, maintain adequate housing, and/or secure other tools that will not only economically advance their families but our community as a whole,” Councilmember Treva Reid said in a statement.

“In our continuous effort to create a thriving East Oakland, I look forward to realizing this pilot’s intended socioeconomic impact,” Reid said.

City officials said the pilot is expected to show how guaranteed income helps not only the people receiving the money but the larger community.

“With the launch of this guaranteed income pilot, East Oakland families will have an opportunity to alleviate long held economic inequities and receive support in reaching their full financial potential,” Councilmember Loren Taylor said in a statement.

“As we explore similar programs on a federal, state and local levels, I look forward to utilizing the data this pilot produces to build out a better and stronger East Oakland,” Taylor said.

Investing in families

Oakland Resilient Families is meant to help those facing the greatest wealth disparities as shown in the Oakland Equity Indicators report, which documents disparities in the city in six broad areas such as the economy, education, and housing.

“This pilot is an investment in families and communities that have been undervalued and financially under-resourced for far too long,” said a statement by Jesus Gerena, CEO of UpTogether, which is collaborating on the pilot with Mayors for a Guaranteed Income.

“It’s an opportunity to build evidence to prove that when you invest in families and give them the choice to use the investment how they see fit, you accelerate not just their economic mobility, but that of the entire community, too,” Gerena said.

Families will be chosen to receive the guaranteed income through a lottery to ensure the selection is fair.

Oakland Resilient Families is not a city program and is being paid for entirely through philanthropic donations.