The city of Stockton, California, is planning to offer a basic income grant of $500 per month to poor residents, making it the first U.S. city to provide a guaranteed income.
Mayor Michael Tubbs announced the program on Wednesday, according to Capital Public Radio. “This is not a handout, it’s a hand up,” he reportedly said. The program is to be privately funded by the Economic Security Project, which Capital Public Radio describes as “a network of researchers, elected leaders, and organizers” and which is run by Facebook co-founder and Barack Obama campaign veteran Chris Hughes.
Stockton declared bankruptcy in 2012, a result of high pension costs, economic stagnation, and “a 15-year spending binge.” Though the city and its finances have recovered somewhat, and the city emerged from bankruptcy in 2015, poverty remains a problem.
The idea of a guaranteed basic income has been gaining traction lately, largely thanks to the advocacy of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has suggested it may become necessary in the future as technological innovation pushes more people out of traditional jobs.
“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas,” Zuckerberg said in May at the commencement ceremony at Harvard University.