Stockton, California will become the first city in the country to participate in a test of Universal Basic Income, in which 100 residents will be given $500-dollars-a-month, with no strings attached.
The program aims to create a level of income that no one will fall beneath.
By providing impoverished residents a regular sum of money that they can use on anything they wish, be it food, clothes, gas, or starting a new venture, those behind the program believe it could go a long way to give people enough support to try out new ideas.
The program in Stockton, which was once known as America’s foreclosure capital, will see the program launched by 2019, and the payments will continue to the individuals chosen for the program for a full 18-months.
The Stockton UBI program has heavy backing from one of the wealthiest areas of the country- Silicon Valley, according to CNN Money.
The idea is, in part, to off-set the economic distress the growing automation industry is expected to cause to American laborers, as well as a way to potentially reduce poverty.
One of the backers for the Stockton UBI program is Facebook’s co-founder Chris Hughes, whose organization, the Economic Security Project, contributed $1 million to the Stockton initiative.
‘It is such a fundamental idea behind America that if you work hard, you can get ahead, and you certainly don’t live in poverty. But that isn’t true today, and it hasn’t been true in the country for decades,’ Hughes told CNN Money.
‘I believe that unless we make significant changes today, the income inequality in our country will continue to grow and call into question the very nature of our social contract.’
One-in-four people in the city of more than 300,000 live in poverty, with the median household income sitting at $49,271, compared to $57,617 nationally.
The city’s inhabitants are also largely minorities with 70 per cent identifying themselves as such.