Under the leadership of Black mayors, a series of pilot programs aimed at pulling people out of poverty was launched across the United States, including a groundbreaking one in Stockton, California, which hopes to prove beyond a doubt the many benefits of guaranteed income.
“We’re the first group of elected folks who actually lived through all of the s—,” argues Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. “We lived through crack and heroin. We lived through zero tolerance. So all the stuff that folks are now talking about, we understand it in a way that no one else will.”
In California, the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) offered $500 a month to 125 residents of poor neighborhoods of Stockton, one of the country’s poorest cities, for a year and a half – the groundbreaking experiment was extended for an extra six months through the worst days of the pandemic – with no strings attached. Pilot programs have been launched in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Denver, Birmingham, Columbia, and Gainesville. SEED led to the establishment of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition that has more than 90 members and three dozen of programs. Over the years, research has proven that guaranteed income works as it pulls people out of poverty, improves health outcomes, helps people find jobs, and take care of their children. It also generates a huge increase in tax revenues and saves on public assistance programs.