The Palm Springs, California City Council unanimously approved the allocation of $200,000 to two nonprofit organizations to explore a pilot plan for a universal basic income program to support transgender and nonbinary residents, the first program of its kind amid a national Wave of laws targeting LGBT+ people.
Approved March 24, the allocation was requested by mental health and medical services nonprofits DAP Health and Queer Works, which will design the program with input from national mayors for a Guaranteed Income Project, a network of U.S. mayors advocating for Implement guaranteed income plans.
Like other guaranteed income proposals, if launched, the initiative would provide direct cash payments to financially support marginalized groups and help narrow the wide disparities in healthcare, housing and income affecting transgender people. affect people.
A pilot version of the program would provide monthly payments of between $600 and $900 to 20 people in Palm Springs and enroll an additional 20 transgender and non-binary residents who would serve as a control group that would allow organizations to measure the level of payments and to investigate services most supportive.
“Helping people in need improve their lives by providing them with direct income is a promising approach,” said David Brinkman, CEO of DAP Health, in a statement. “Our goal is to develop a model that influences the largest possible number of people. We hope that our pilot project will help validate that guaranteed income is a cost-effective way to achieve positive outcomes.”
Transgender Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed as other adults, and unemployed transgender people earn about 32 percent less than their peers, despite similar education.
According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, 29 percent of transgender people live in poverty, compared to 16 percent of cisgender Americans.
According to the American Medical Student Association, transgender individuals also face greater health disparities than cisgender Americans and are more likely to face stigma and healthcare discrimination, resulting in care being postponed or healthcare being denied outright, and they experience four times as common a mental health condition.
A 2021 report by LGBT+ suicide prevention and crisis intervention group The Trevor Project found that LGBT+ youth are four times more likely to seriously consider, plan or attempt suicide than their peers.
“This is an opportunity to help individuals obtain money… to subsidize the income gap faced by the trans and non-binary community because it has one of the highest unemployment rates in this country,” said Jacob Rostovsky, CEO from Queer Works, the transgender is at last week’s ward council meeting.
The city’s allocation would also allow organizations to apply for a share of a $35 million state fund that provides grants for guaranteed-income plans throughout California.
The groups may also turn to the city for additional matching funding, though some city officials appear reluctant to commit to broader funding efforts just yet.
Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, the state’s first openly transgender mayor, expressed some reservations about the plan, stressing that the need for financial assistance is “absolutely real.” More than 400,000 people live below the poverty line in Riverside County, she said.
“My serious concern is the ability of these guaranteed income programs to scale to the magnitude of the problems that lie ahead,” Mayor Middleton said.
“Having a program like this to serve people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities is an incredible part of Palm Springs values, without a doubt,” said Councilman Dennis Woods. “But we have so many priorities that I’m just not sure we can commit to developing a guaranteed income program over the long term.”
Mayor Middleton said the state, not local governments, should be concerned with economic inequality, poverty reduction policies and related issues.
“For every person we reach out through these programs, a dozen more are not getting help from these programs. and that’s a very serious concern,” she said.
The proposal comes as Republican lawmakers across the US are introducing dozens of bills criminalizing transgender healthcare, banning transgender athletes from sports, and censoring classroom teaching against issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, among other things.
The Human Rights Campaign has prosecuted more than 300 laws deemed harmful to LGBT+ people, with more than 130 of those bills targeting transgender people.
This year’s unprecedented legislative action against transgender people already surpasses the number of actions tabled in 2021, nearly doubling in just two years. Legislation targeting transgender people has increased from 18 bills in 2018 to more than 150 in 2022.