City of Sacramento residents can apply to receive unconditional $500 monthly payments from the second round of a local guaranteed income program.
Residents have until April 14 to apply and the United Way California Capital Region will start paying 80 eligible households in July.
The payments will last for one year and are designed to help families dealing with financial stress. To be eligible for the program, applicants must meet certain income thresholds, such as making under $28,205 for a single adult or under $93,120 for a five-person household.
Funding for the second round comes from the city of Sacramento’s COVID-19 relief budget, specifically the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The City Council in June approved $750,000 to continue the United Way program, which was initially funded by a private donation, not public funding.
“With rising housing, food, gas and electricity costs, too many residents of our state’s capital are struggling to make ends meet,” Dawnté Early, president and CEO of the local United Way, said in a press release. “Through this second round of funding, United Way’s Guaranteed Income Program will continue to address poverty directly by giving even more community members money to meet basic needs, no strings attached.”
The first round of the program began in July 2021 and is set to end this summer. United Way funded the round with part of $10 million philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gave the organization in December 2020. One hundred Sacramento County households have been receiving $300 per month.
North Highlands resident John Berchielli is one of the participants. He lives on a fixed income with a medical disability and has used the payments on tires, insurance and batteries for his truck. In a September interview, Berchielli said he couldn’t afford to replace eight-year-old tires before the Direct Investment Program in Sacramento (DIPS).
After his truck got stolen, Berchielli lost his main transportation for medical appointments and buying food. Berchielli couldn’t afford to buy a new car, but he shifted to spending most of his DIPS payments on soil to grow vegetables. By September, he said he was growing 60 varieties of peppers on his driveway.
“A lot of people have the misconception that people will misuse the funds, whereas in my particular case, I was able to leverage the funds,” Berchielli said. “By leveraging the funds, I mean I'm able to grow more food than I can eat, enough to share with my friends, family and neighbors and even enough to sell excess so I can have a small income.”
Berchielli plans to reuse the soil and said he hopes his garden can generate $300 per month after the first round of the program ends. Berchielli said he can’t work full-time because of his disability, but one-third of DIPS participants work multiple jobs, according to a survey the local United Way conducted.
In a Thursday press conference announcing the second round, Mayor Darrell Steinberg emphasized that statistic. He said the program is not a giveaway, but it empowers people who can’t make ends meet or pay for life’s unanticipated costs. Guaranteed income can help families afford rent, food and prescriptions, he added.
“I’m so proud that we are investing directly in partnership with the United Way to be a leader across the nation [with] guaranteed basic income,” Steinberg said.
Stockton — which began a closely-watched program in 2019 — is among the other cities that have run or funded guaranteed income programs. California is also starting a pilot and awarded $25 million to seven basic income programs in November. The local United Way applied for matching funds from the state, but wasn’t selected.
Sacramento residents can apply for the program online until April 14. Income requirements are listed on the local United Way’s website.
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