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Free Money at the Edge of the Tech Boom

October 20, 2017

Alexis C. Madrigal : theatlantic – excerpt

A 27-year-old mayor is implementing a $1 million experiment in guaranteed income for residents of a poor city just outside the Bay Area…“The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

The latest experiment in a universal basic income will be coming to Stockton, California, in the next year.

With $1 million in funding from the tech industry–affiliated Economic-Security Project, the Stockton Economic-Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) will be the country’s first municipal pilot program. As currently envisioned, some number of people in Stockton will receive $500 per month. That’s not enough to cover all their expenses, but it could help people with rising housing costs, paying student loans, or simply saving for life’s inevitable problems…

As the tech boom that began in the mid-00s continues, its financial blast radius keeps expanding. Tech workers have been streaming into the Bay, yet few homes have been built in the Bay Area’s cities. Home prices and rents have exploded. Longtime residents and newcomers alike have been getting pushed ever further out. And in recent years, Stockton—once one of the cheapest cities to live in California—has become the eastmost outpost of the insane Bay housing market.

“There’s not a shortage of housing. There’s a shortage of money to buy housing,” said Fred Sheil, a member of STAND Affordable Housing in Stockton. “Unless you’ve got Bay Area income, they aren’t interesting in talking to you.”…

Stockton won’t be the first UBI project in the Bay (pilots are already in the field in West Oakland and San Francisco), but it would be the first public attempt to show what a basic income can do for people… (more)

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