Income

Palm Springs Funds Universal Basic Income Program for Trans Residents

Two local groups interested in creating a Universal Basic Income pilot program for transgender and non-binary residents will receive $200,000 from Palm Springs to help expand it. Photo: City of Palm Springs

Two local groups interested in creating a Universal Basic Income pilot program for transgender and non-binary residents will receive $200,000 from Palm Springs to help expand it.

The Palm Springs City Council approved a memorandum of understanding in a 4-1 vote at Thursday’s meeting.

Mayor Lisa Middleton, who identifies as transgender, voted against the deal.

In March, council voted 5-0 to help Queer Works and DAP Health create their Basic Income pilot program and asked city staff to create a memorandum of understanding.

During this board meeting, Middleton had reservations about the idea and its potential success.

At the April 7 council meeting, Middleton spoke of the “abuse” city staff faced following hostile phone calls and emails from people complaining about the council vote.

Middleton said Thursday she was voting no because she doesn’t think it’s a city’s duty to create a basic income program.

“I have come to a different conclusion on how we should proceed and I do so reluctantly and with great respect for those who think differently,” Middleton said. “I can’t support a basic income program. I don’t believe it’s a municipal responsibility to act in this area and I don’t believe the outline of the program is such that it will gain broad public approval and adoption, and for these reasons , I will vote no.

LGBT people collectively have a poverty rate of 21.6%, which is far higher than the 15.7% rate for heterosexual cisgender people, according to a study by the Williams Institute at UCLA.

Among LGBT people, transgender people have a particularly high poverty rate of 29.4%, according to the study.

Palm Springs’ $200,000 will fund the application process for the pilot program, which will include engagement with the community to help develop the details of the program proposal.

The MoU includes a detailed budget.

The budget:

  • $137,000 in salary for a project development consultant
  • $30,000 for contract fees for application development and a consultant
  • $15,000 for benefits consultant salary during the design phase of the project
  • $10,000 for six months of program development costs, including internet, meal allowances, research tools, etc.
  • $5,000 operational costs associated with outreach events.
  • $3,000 in stipends for 30 focus group participants that will help develop the program

The agreement stipulates that unused funds would be used in future phases of the pilot project process.

It also indicates that organizations must provide monthly progress reports outlining their activities and progress.