City In California Aims To Provide Guaranteed Income For Transgender, Nonbinary Residents

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A California city is allocating $200,000 to develop a guaranteed income program for transgender and non-binary residents. The Palm Springs City Council, which approved the pilot program on March 24, issued a report which described transgender and nonbinary residents as “particularly vulnerable” due to unemployment, homelessness, assault and discrimination, NBC Los Angeles reports.

Partnering with Palm Springs-based DAP Health and Queer Works, two organizations fighting to protect the LGBTQ+ community, the city plans to roll out the program in three phases over the next year. The state-funded initiative, which will draw from the $35 million allocated in 2021 toward guaranteed income programs across California, doesn’t include any stipulations in regards to how recipients must spend the money.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Queer Works Chief Executive Jacob Rostovsky said the plan is to provide monthly payments of $600- $900 to 20 participants who identify as transgender or nonbinary. The initiative would also include another 20 participants who would receive social services built into the program, but not the monthly payments.

“This is a chance to help individuals receive money that we can think of as a subsidy — to subsidize the gap in income that the trans and nonbinary community faces due to having some of the highest levels of unemployment in this country,” Rostovsky, who is transgender, said at the city council meeting.

Council Member Christy Holstege said she feels “incredibly proud” of the city for staying on “the right side of history and supporting our trans and nonbinary, gender-nonconforming community.”

Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, who is also transgender, expressed doubt about the program.

“My serious concern is the ability of these guaranteed income programs to scale up to the magnitude of the issues that are before us,” Middleton said, adding that there are over 400,000 people living below the poverty line in Riverside County.

The mayor, however, voted for the initiative.

“I have been wrong many times,” Middleton said. “I could be wrong again on this one.”

The pilot program still needs more funding before it can be fully implemented. In addition to state funding, advocates said they may need philanthropic support. They may also come back to the city to ask for additional funding.

Other California cities such as Stockton, Los Angeles and San Francisco are also providing supplemental income to at-risk residents.