When you think of Stockton, California the first thing that probably comes to mind is Nick and Nate Diaz, the badass weed-smoking UFC brothers who’ve been repping the 300,000-person town for over two decades now.
Other than that, it’s mostly known for being one of the most dangerous cities in the US with 1,408 violent crimes a year, according to Forbes.
But now Stockton, California is making headlines for a different reason.
After electing Michael Tubbs, a 26-year-old mayor (who’s now 27) last year, Stockton is experimenting with an innovative program that will offer residents a universal basic income of $500 a month, or $6,000 per year that lasts for a three-year period.
The program is called the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, or SEED, and is helping combat the very harsh struggles many of the residents go through.
In addition to having one of the highest crime rates in the country, one in four people in Stockton live under the poverty line. In fact in 2013, they became the biggest city to have to file for bankruptcy, according to CNBC.
The solution of SEED came when Mayor Tubbs did his research on the poverty going on in his city and how the wealth is distributed. Growing up as a part of this community, Tubbs understands what his residents go though and what they realistically need.
He told Vox,
“Growing up in poverty and seeing how much of some of the stress came from trying to stretch dollars to pay for necessities, like bills or school uniforms. When things came up unexpectedly it would cause a lot of hardships.”
According to Vox, the first $1 million from the program is coming from the nearby Silicon Valley Economic Security Project, “a pro-basic income advocacy and research group co-chaired by Facebook co-founder and former New Republic publisher Chris Hughes.”
Stockton isn’t the first city to experiment with a basic income program for residents. Cities from Ontario, Canada to cities in Finland and Kenya have all assisted their people to help deal with poverty.
Tubbs is far from the first elected official to try this out but at 27 years old, the youngest mayor of a town with a population higher than 100,000, he may set the trend in US cities going forward. He continued telling Vox,
“The stress isn’t because people don’t have character. It’s because people don’t have cash.”
The more cities start to elect people who understand their residents like Tubbs, the better the solutions we’ll have to help those who really need it.