What is guaranteed income?
Guaranteed income programs provide an income floor through direct recurring cash payments to individuals who are low-income for a select timeframe. The key to these programs is that recipients have flexibility to use these funds to address any issue that might arise and however they see fit. Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, low-income families and residents have struggled to obtain or maintain economic stability and find a path out of poverty. Guaranteed income programs invest in and support the most vulnerable residents during a time they need it the most.
Why does guaranteed income matter for health?
The underlying idea behind these programs is that by directly increasing an individual’s income, they could improve their health and well-being immediately across a range of important outcomes, such as by increasing consumption of necessary goods like food and access to healthcare. In addition, it could enable behaviors that are beneficial in a longer time horizon, such as investing in schooling or career training. Improving these outcomes allow individuals to improve their overall health. Evaluations of more established guaranteed income programs like Stockton Seed and Mississippi Magnolia Mother’s Trust found a significant increase in the number of participants who enjoyed more income stability and had to rely less on borrowing from lenders, friends and family members and whose mental health and emotional well-being improved significantly. The Stockton Seed participants reported a significant increase in access to full-time employment.
Implementation best practices:
- Use guaranteed income to help address racial and health inequities by improving a temporary safety net to financial insecure residents.
- Support economic mobility beyond the program by providing job training support and/or financial services and resources.
- Be flexible to use these funds to address any hardships that may arise that disrupt access to basic needs including food, transportation, housing, childcare/education, health insurance and more.
- Include benefits counseling for recipients to ensure that they can continue to receive other safety nets benefits while being part of the guaranteed income program.
- Ensure guaranteed income targets eligible residents who come from underserved backgrounds such as: pregnant woman, low-income families with children, undocumented residents, elderly populations, low-income families, and foster youth.
- Partner with a consultant or academic institution to evaluate the short- and long-term impacts of the program.
Oakland Resilient Families provides 600 randomly selected low-income Oakland families with at least one child under 18 years old a guaranteed income of $500 per month for at least 18 months. The program is open to undocumented residents and unsheltered families. The program is designed to include a voluntary research component to track how $500 per month impacts families economically, mentally, and emotionally.
San Francisco Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists is a partnership with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The program allocates $1,000 per month to about 130 San Francisco artists hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is built specifically for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA2S+, immigrant, and artists with disabilities.
Mission Asset Fund- Immigrant Families Recovery Fund provides $400 a month for up to 24 months to 2,500 immigrant families who have been excluded from federal assistance.
Upcoming funding opportunities:
California Department of Social Services is managing a $35 million budget over 5 years to pilot guarantee income programs across the state. CDSS will issue a request for application sometime in the Spring of 2022. If your jurisdiction or organization is interested in applying for this grant, please check out the information for prospective applicants.
Guaranteed Basic Income Projects, https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/guaranteed-basic-income-projects
Guaranteed Income Pilot Program for San Francisco Artists, https://sfmayor.org/article/mayor-breed-announces-launch-guaranteed-income-pilot-program-san-francisco-artists
Immigrant Families Recovery Program, https://www.missionassetfund.org/ifrp/
Magnolia Mother’s Trust, https://springboardto.org/magnolia-mothers-trust/
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, https://www.mayorsforagi.org
Oakland Resilient Families, https://oaklandresilientfamilies.org/about
Stockton SEED, https://www.stocktondemonstration.org
 Magnolia Mother’s Trust. 2020 Evaluation Report, from https://springboardto.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/MMT-2.0-Evaluation-Two-Pager.pdf
SMC Health Guaranteed Income
 Mayor Breed Announces Launch of Guaranteed Income Pilot Program for San Francisco Artists | Office of the Mayor. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://sfmayor.org/article/mayor-breed-announces-launch-guaranteed-income-pilot-program-san-francisco-artists
 Guaranteed Basic Income Projects. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/guaranteed-basic-income-projects
 RFA. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/guaranteed-basic-income-projects/rfa