Oakland mayor defends program offering $500 to non-white struggling families only

Oakland Mayor, Libby Schaaf, a Democrat defended a new program offering $500 to struggling families of color, with low income white families not eligible.

Schaaf announced the program on the last week, tweeting “Poverty is not a personal failure, it’s a policy failure. Today in Oakland we launched a guaranteed income pilot for 600 low-income BIPOC families to receive $500 a month for 18 months, no strings. We want to change the narrative.”

She added “boosted by Stockton’s results, our goal is to add to the body of evidence that unrestricted cash to our lowest-income residents – and particularly those who’ve suffered from historical racial inequity – can improve outcomes + change systems.”

Per the Washington Post “to qualify, families must have at least one child and make less than 50 percent of the area median — about $59,000 annually for a family of three and they must be Black, Indigenous or otherwise identify as people of color.”

Schaff told Wapo “There are huge gaps between people of color and our white residents. With the limited resources of this pilot, we would like to understand better how we can understand these disparities as well as address overall poverty.”

“The federal government is the only one that can provide an entitlement to meet whatever need there is,” she added. “The rest of us have to balance our budgets. We live in constant uncertainty, much like American families.”

Schaaf’s introduction to the program received backlash on Twitter.

“As an Oakland resident I am deeply concerned for the requirement of being born into a specific racial group to qualify for this program. I applaud the City for the concept to bridge the wealth gap, with private funds too, but I believe this will lead us down the wrong path.”

“This is discriminatory and should not be permitted. I hope that there are lawyers that are filing lawsuits against the mayor and the city for this discriminatory practice.”

“I get the idea of helping people who are impeded by systemic racism but I also feel this trial could have the opposite effect of what #UBI is about. UBI is meant to go to everyone, free of stigma and conditions. This has a lot of conditions on eligibility and may inflame racism.”