Palm Springs funds universal basic income effort for trans residents

Palm Springs Universal Basic Income

Two local groups wanting to create a universal basic income pilot program for transgender and nonbinary residents will receive $200,000 from Palm Springs to help develop it. Photo: City of Palm Springs

Two local groups wanting to create a universal basic income pilot program for transgender and nonbinary residents will receive $200,000 from Palm Springs to help develop it.

The Palm Springs City Council approved a memorandum of understanding in a 4-1 vote at Thursday’s meeting.

Mayor Lisa Middleton, who identifies as transgender, voted against the agreement.

In March, the council voted 5-0 in favor of helping Queer Works and DAP Health create their basic income pilot program and instructed city staff to create a memorandum of understanding.

During that council meeting, Middleton had reservations about the idea and its potential success.

At the April 7 council meeting, Middleton spoke about the “abuse” city staff had faced from hostile phone calls and emails from people complaining about the council vote.

Middleton said Thursday she was voting no because she doesn’t think it’s a city’s duty to create a basic income program.

“I’ve come to a different conclusion regarding how we should proceed and I do so very reluctantly and with great respect for those who think differently,” Middleton said. “I cannot support a basic income program. I don’t believe it’s a municipal responsibility to act in this area and I don’t believe the outlines of the program are such that they will win broad public approval and adoption, and for those reasons I will be voting no.”

LGBT people collectively have a poverty rate of 21.6%, which is much higher than the 15.7% rate for cisgender heterosexual people, according to a study by UCLA’s Williams Institute.

Among LGBT individuals, transgender people have an especially high poverty rate of 29.4%, the study said.

The $200,000 from Palm Springs will fund the application process for the pilot program, which will include engaging with the community to help develop the program proposal specifics.

The memorandum of understanding includes an itemized budget.

The budget:

  • $137,000 in salary for a project development consultant
  • $30,000 for a contract fee for application development and consultant
  • $15,000 for benefits consultant salary during the project design phase
  • $10,000 for six months of program development costs, including internet, meal stipends, research tools, etc.
  • $5,000 operational costs associated with outreach events.
  • $3,000 in stipends for 30 participants in focus groups that will help develop the program

The agreement says unused funds would be used in future phases of the pilot project process.

It also says the organizations must provide monthly progress reports outlining their activities and progress.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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