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New research supports the targeting of guaranteed income pilots to those who need it most

Oakland, CA – Making Sure the Shoe Fits, a report released today from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, offers new research supporting the targeting of guaranteed income pilots to those who need it most.

The Insight Center reviewed 27 current guaranteed income projects managed across 10 of California’s 58 counties by a range of public and private institutions, measuring the cost of living in each area using the organization’s Family Needs Calculator (FNC). Unlike the outdated federal measures of poverty, the FNC is representative of the actual costs of living and includes expenses such as housing, childcare, groceries, health care, transportation and taxes.

“California is leading the way on guaranteed income, and must set the example for other states — and the country — on the importance of using this policy to close longstanding racial and gender inequities that are only being compounded by current inflation and rising interest rates,” said Insight Center Director of Research and report co-author Yvonne Yen Liu.

People of color are disproportionately represented among those who are struggling in the state. For example, the FNC to cover the basic needs of two adults and two children in San Francisco — home to four different guaranteed income pilots — is ​​$153,227, but Black women in the city are paid barely a third of that. Across the 10 counties with GI pilots, two in five residents do not get paid enough to cover their basic needs. Three-quarters of those who are below the FNC – 1.5 million individuals — are people of color; almost three in five families headed by a Latinx woman are below the FNC, and more than half of the households headed by Black women cannot meet their basic needs. 

“Guaranteed income has tremendous potential to create a more equitable economy, but only if programs target these  resources to those who have been most marginalized by our economy,” said Insight Center Executive Vice President and report co-author Jhumpa Bhattacharya. “Pilots must, at the very least, be targeted by income. Elon Musk does not need a guaranteed income, a Black mother in San Francisco does.”

The full report can be found here.