Former Stockton mayor launches nonprofit to end poverty in California

By Alejandro Lazo, CalMatters

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, who made a political name for himself championing a guaranteed income program, hopes to spread his political ideas across the state by launching a new nonprofit aimed at alleviating poverty in the Golden State.

Tubbs, who moved to Los Angeles after losing re-election in 2020 and is now an economic adviser to Governor Gavin Newsom, will lead End Poverty In California (EPIC), which he says will also advocate for an expanded California safety net. as making changes to statewide housing, criminal justice, labor and wage policies that he says contribute to inequity in the state.

EPIC will also promote a statewide guaranteed income program and state-funded savings accounts, known as Baby Bonds, to which children from low-income families will be able to access once they are adults. In an interview, Tubbs said poverty alleviation work remains California’s biggest challenge, creating enormous wealth but reaching only a small elite.

“It’s only going to get worse,” Tubbs said. “I would say the government has a responsibility not to give everything to everyone, but to make sure the rules, laws and regulations are fair – so that the results are fair.”

An EPIC white paper released today, co-developed with poverty researchers at Stanford University, paints a devastating picture of California’s economic divide. The state is the wealthiest in the nation, but has the highest poverty rate at 15.4%, as measured by the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account housing and transportation costs, as well as government spending and other factors.

The EPIC report advocates changes in housing markets as well as the justice system, among other suggestions.

Specifically, the report calls for the decriminalization of certain offenses often associated with people experiencing homelessness, such as public camping, overnight parking and vagrancy.

The document also suggests decriminalizing certain offenses associated with people with mental health issues, such as disorderly conduct. The report calls for standing firm on changes to the state’s cash bond system. He advocates the expansion of homebuyer assistance programs for low-income families, as well as zoning changes to allow more affordable housing to be built.

To narrow the wealth gap, the program is advocating for greater redistribution through a guaranteed income program that provides unconditional cash relief and baby bonds that could give children of families a financial boost. low income.

The program Tubbs championed launched in February 2019, offering 125 Stockton residents $500 a month for two years. An early analysis of the programme, the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), found that it reduced fluctuations in monthly income and helped boost employment among participants. It also reduced feelings of anxiety and depression.

The idea of ​​a guaranteed income has already made headway in California, with Democratic lawmakers last year approving the first state-funded program, with a $35 million pool to support current or new pilot programs. . The programs will be tested in several cities including Oakland and Los Angeles. Guaranteed Income for low- and middle-income households is separate from Universal Basic Income, which was popularized by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang to provide money for every adult.

David B. Grusky, director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Stanford University and lead author of the EPIC policy paper, said the report aimed to offer solutions that would reduce poverty and disparities in the world. ‘State.

“Despite all the good intentions and all the policies, we still have the highest poverty rate in the country,” Grusky said. “The rationale for this report was: what if we take seriously the idea that we want this to be a truly inclusive society and that we actually eliminate poverty?”

Grusky hopes the ideas will inspire. He said: “I want to show that it’s not impossible.

This article is part of the California Divide Project, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequality and economic survival in California.



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