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Supes approve guaranteed income pilot for 160 households in need

South San Francisco’s guaranteed income pilot program is set to receive an additional $100,000 in funds, thanks to a grant the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved on Tuesday.

The guaranteed income pilot program, the first of its kind in San Mateo County, will provide $500 a month to 160 low-income South San Francisco households.

It aims to alleviate persistent poverty in vulnerable communities, with a focus on families most at risk of displacement, former foster youth and those living in the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Undocumented people and residents without Social Security are also eligible for this program.

Program recipients will also be provided case managers, budget assistance and quarterly reports on their spending habits to improve financial literacy.

The South San Francisco City Council unanimously approved the program in mid-July and allocated $800,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds, mirroring a state-backed guaranteed income program approved by California’s Legislature on July 15.

Vice Mayor Mark Nagales said in a statement:

“During the pandemic, I’ve had numerous conversations with residents who made life-altering decisions to either pay for their food, their medicine, or their rent. Guaranteed income will help 160 South San Francisco households alleviate their financial distress and remove barriers to their social and economic mobility.” 

Program organizers initially said they would implement a lottery system if more than 135 applicants applied during the application period in August. With greater funding from the county, the city’s program has since expanded from tentatively serving 135 households to 160.

Supervisor Dave Pine said in a statement:

“Escaping poverty by improving financial circumstances can be complicated by the unaffordability of the basic tools to do so such as childcare, transit, skills training and even the risk to rent or food benefit subsidies should incomes increase even slightly. … In similar programs, there is evidence that such additional support can prove pivotal in helping to lift families out of poverty.”

The Community Resource Center of the YMCA in South San Francisco will manage the application process, assist residents with setting up bank accounts, facilitate the payments and collect data throughout the program.

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