Transgender and Nonbinary Residents of Palm Springs Will Receive Universal Income Regardless of Earnings

Palm Springs will be starting a new pilot program that would give transgender and nonbinary residents a universal basic income (UBI) of $900 per month solely on the basis of their identity. Not only will they receive a UBI, but there will also be no regard for earnings, whether they are unemployed or make over $100,000 per year. 

According to local leaders, the program is being started because transgender and nonbinary people are economically marginalized. DAP Health CEO David Brinkman, whose advocacy-based health center is managing the program, said that transgender individuals are, “one of the most marginalized populations in our city who face some of the highest levels of housing insecurity, joblessness and discrimination.” CEO of Queer Works Jacob Rostowksy, who is partnering with DAP Health to manage the program said that the city of Palm Springs will have to match any state funding, “Our project’s budget is estimated at about $1.8 million. And so when we look at what other [programs] that have been successfully funded have done, their local cities have provided nearly a match to that funding.” 

Critics of the program say it will do little to lift people out of poverty. Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio called out the program saying it would add to inflation. DeMaio also called the program “discriminatory” and “woke virtue signaling to the LGBT community”. DeMaio, a Republican, was the first openly gay member of the San Diego City Council. Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, who is transgender, said she was worried about UBI programs and that the city could not do enough, “I specifically stated that I did not believe such programs could scale up to adequately respond to the over 37 million Americans living below the poverty line, the over 6 million Californians or the over 400,000 in the County of Riverside living below the poverty [line]”. Despite her criticism, Middleton praised Brinkman for his work for the community and said that more needs to be done protect transgender individuals, “Transgender Americans suffer extremely high rates of under and unemployment. Transgender Americans face enormous challenges living full and authentic lives”. 

The program set aside $200,000 of taxpayer money after it was unanimously passed by the Palm Springs City Council.  

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