The County of Santa Clara is taking a major step to providing a guaranteed basic income to vulnerable populations. On Tuesday, the County’s Board of Supervisors allocated $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Fund for a $4 million Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) Pilot Program for justice-involved individuals. This latest initiative builds on the success of the first-of-its-kind guaranteed basic income program for former foster youth that began in 2020.
“Santa Clara County was one of the first in the nation to pilot guaranteed basic income. Like other local governments, we have seen this investment work, and so we are expanding to include $2 million in ARPA funds for 100 justice-involved individuals to receive a GBI,” said Supervisor and Board President Susan Ellenberg. “With this funding, the County has allocated a total of $12 million for four basic income pilot programs to help participants build stable lives. A guaranteed basic income plays a significant role in solidifying our county safety net and countering the myth that poverty is a moral failing of individuals versus the result of systemic failures.”
In addition to the ARPA funding, the County has invested over $5 million from the General Fund and secured $3 million in state funding (with the support of State Sen. Dave Cortese), $1 million from AB 109 funding, and $1 million from Destination: Home.
“Investing $4 million in the Guaranteed Basic Income program allows the participants to choose how to handle the challenges they face,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “By providing a guaranteed basic income, we offer stability to people so they can lead productive lives and reduce the likelihood of going back to jail.”
Evaluation of the County’s very first pilot for foster youth from 2020 showed participants overcame barriers and led healthier lives. After two years, participants reported improved well-being with measurable improvements in income stability, employment, housing, and an increased credit score. Many reported a generational impact by being able to enroll their children in extracurricular activities or getting jobs that allowed them to spend more time with their children.
This latest initiative is part of a broader effort to explore the potential benefits of GBI as an intervention to increase participant self-sufficiency and well-being. In addition to receiving a monthly stipend of $1,200 for two years, participants will have help accessing services for housing stability, financial independence, self-sufficiency, and community building.
The four expanded target populations for new GBI efforts include a second cohort of former foster youth, along with young mothers, justice-involved individuals, and unhoused high school seniors. Pilot programs will include a rigorous research and evaluation component. The estimated timeline for each pilot to provide a GBI by target population (after the design, evaluation, and enrollment phases have concluded) is as follows:
- Former foster youth: Summer 2023
- Young moms: Spring 2024
- Justice-involved individuals: Summer 2024
- Unhoused high school seniors: Summer 2025
“We know GBI as an intervention works well for former foster youth, and now with the Board’s support, we are seeking community stakeholders’ involvement in our design phase for justice-involved individuals,” said Melanie Jimenez Perez, who manages the County program. “Stakeholder input will help us solidify a justice-involved program and evaluation design grounded in how to best serve justice-involved individuals, with input from the individuals we aim to serve.”
The County is developing eligibility criteria for the justice-involved pilot program in consultation with community stakeholders, including those with lived experience in the justice system, and an independent evaluator. For more information or to provide input on the GBI for justice-involved clients, please contact the Office of the County Executive at firstname.lastname@example.org.