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SF launches guaranteed income program for trans community

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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

San Francisco officially launched a guaranteed income program for members of its transgender community yesterday.

Details: The effort — dubbed Guaranteed Income for Trans People (or GIFT) — will provide 55 eligible residents with $1,200 per month for up to 18 months to “help address financial insecurity,” per the mayor’s office.

  • The people selected will also receive gender-affirming medical and mental health care, as well as financial coaching.
  • First announced last year, the city has set aside $2 million for the program, Parisa Safarzadeh, a spokesperson for the mayor, told Axios.

Why it matters: A higher percentage of trans Californians experience poverty compared to the state’s general population (33% vs. 12%), according to a 2015 survey.

  • During the pandemic, local transgender community groups recognized that direct payments could be a valuable tool for those who suddenly lost their jobs.

What they’re saying: “We know that our trans communities experience much higher rates of poverty and discrimination, so this program will target support to lift individuals in this community up,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

Of note: GIFT is San Francisco’s third guaranteed income project to date.

  • Since 2020, the city has provided financial support to 135 mothers during and after pregnancy, as part of its Abundant Birth Project.
  • And, since launching last year, its Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists has cut $1,000 checks monthly to 190 local musicians, writers, visual artists and more.

The big picture: Cities across the country – from Denver to Des Moines — have started experimenting with guaranteed income programs in recent years as a way to help low-income residents pull themselves out of poverty.

  • Palm Springs approved a similar effort for its transgender residents earlier this year.

Yes, but: It is too early to determine the impact of such programs.

  • A two-year program in Finland, which ended in December 2018, gave monthly payments to 2,000 unemployed people and was viewed as a failure since so many remained unemployed at its conclusion, Axios’ Jennifer Kingson reported.

The intrigue: Proposition K, which was ultimately wiped off this November’s ballot because its authors didn’t initially realize the financial impact it could have on small business owners, was expected to provide the city with millions of dollars to fund guaranteed income projects.

  • Meanwhile, the city said to look out for two additional guaranteed income programs next year focusing on youth populations.

What’s next: Applications for GIFT are open through Dec. 15.

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