This City May Be the First in the U.S. to Try a Universal Basic Income

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Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

How would your life change if, each month, someone just gave you enough money to cover your basic needs?

Would you travel more?

Would you pursue a passion?

Would you go back to school and get a degree?

Would you simply sleep better at night knowing you would have food on the table and enough money to pay your bills?

These are the questions Michael Tubbs, the 27-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, wants everyone to be able to answer.

Stockton’s Basic Income Experiment

Tubbs, who grew up in the central California city, recently announced the launch of an experimental program that will give citizens of Stockton $500 in basic income every month.

Residents will be allowed to use the money however they see fit — no restrictions, no rules and absolutely no strings attached.

The young mayor was motivated to test out the program after seeing how income insecurity affected his mother throughout his own childhood.

“If we had $300 a month, life would be less stressful,” Tubbs said. “Maybe she would have been able to go back to school and get her BA, or pursue a passion.”

The city hopes to start the program in 2018 and provide several hundred citizens with a basic income for at least a couple of years. How long the program will last depends on the level of funding the city can make available.

Universal Basic Income: Not a New Concept

While Stockton may be the first city in the U.S. to actually implement a universal basic income, programs like this one are gaining popularity around the world.

Both Finland and Canada are currently testing basic income programs in hopes of determining whether the outcome is actually worth the investment.

Earlier this year, Hawaii was toying with the idea of being the first state to provide its residents with a UBI to combat a severe increase in its homeless population.

Back in May, two documentary filmmakers announced plans to follow and film two people who would be given $250 weekly for two years in order to shed light on the concept of a UBI and hopefully increase its popularity.

As of right now, experts seem to be pretty torn on the benefits and drawbacks of a UBI. However, if the Stockton experiment is successful, it could encourage more cities — or even entire states — to test out programs of their own.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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