Palm Springs Becomes First U.S. City To Give Trans And Non-Binary People Universal Basic Income

Posted April 5, 2022 by with 0 comments

There are hundreds of homeless people sleeping on the streets in downtown Palm Springs, so one would think the city would work to give them money first—regardless of gender identity—but perhaps that wouldn’t garner the same controversial headlines and isn’t very exciting. Instead, the city council voted unanimously to pay universal basic income (between $600-900/month) to transgender and nonbinary residents, regardless of their already existing income or housing status. Via Patch/Fox:

Transgender residents in Palm Springs, California are eligible to receive a UBI of up to $900 per month solely for identifying as transgender or nonbinary — no strings attached.

The new pilot program will have $200,000 set aside for allocation after a unanimous vote by the Palm Springs City Council last week.

Twenty transgender and nonbinary Palm Springs residents will receive the free money funded by the taxpayers for 18 months, with advocacy-based health center DAP Health and LGBT advocacy group Queer Works managing the program.

A six-month design period will be the precursor of the program’s implementation, in which the group Mayors for a Guaranteed Income will be involved providing guidance.

Handing out money to any group when you’re not addressing the root problems plaguing a society—no affordable housing (and not enough houses in general), stagnant wages that don’t keep up with the cost of living (let alone the insane inflation), health care costs, crime, mental health, crumbling infrastructure and lack of public transportation, drug addiction—is well-meaning and sounds good in theory (especially for a marginalized group like the trans community, who face enormous challenges and do obviously deserve support), but it’s unfortunately a complete waste of tax dollars. It’s like saying, “OK, we give up, and we have no idea how to fix the systemic problems that are killing people and destroying our country.”

Thankfully, this is just a pilot program, and it’ll only involve 20 people:

The Palm Springs City Council voted unanimously last week to grant $200,000 to DAP Health and Queer Works, Coachella Valley-based organizations that fight disparities faced by the LGBTQ+ community, the Desert Sun reported.

As part of a guaranteed income pilot program, the two organizations would provide between $600 and $900 to 20 people who live, work and spend the majority of their time in Palm Springs, the newspaper reported.

And despite the unanimous vote, even the city’s trans mayor isn’t really in favor of the UBI program:

Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, who is transgender, pointed to the transcript from the city council’s March 24 meeting where she “expressed strong reservations in general to guaranteed income programs.”

“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],” Middleton said in an email, praising Brinkman for his work and expressing her “concern for the financial vulnerability of the transgender community.”

Middleton added she believes a UBI program is a “county, state and federal responsibility,” not a “municipal” one.

Universal Basic Income might work for some people in countries that aren’t already completely falling apart, but the United States is, obviously, not one of those countries, and if you’ve driven through any densely populated city in California (or even smaller cities like Palm Springs) over the last five years, you know that this state in particular is on the brink of collapse. No amount of basic income for any group is going to solve California’s problems.