While Washington is reeling from the proposed spending plans of President Biden, there are similar plans floating among cities in this country that involve millions of dollars to be given away.
But don’t think that means everyone will get some of the loot – it will only go to certain groups of people and even at that, not everyone in those groups. I know, it sounds confusing, but I will explain.
The overall group of people to benefit from the freebies is the homeless – but not all of them. Only certain select ones. In fact, one of the plans being proposed for the California city of Oakland, funded by private donations, will benefit families with at least one child under 18 and an income at or below 50% of area median income – said to be about $59,000 for a family of three.
Oh, and one more thing: The plan is only for “Blacks, Indigenous People and People of Color Communities.”
If you’re white, forget it. You don’t qualify. The thinking goes back to the plans for such aid proposed by the Black Panther Party in Oakland back in the ’60s – which said that such a plan is a “direct investment in the community” – a response to systemic injustice.
Keep in mind, I’m looking at plans in California, so that should give you a hint as to the scope of the plans and who will benefit. There are a lot of homeless in California, especially in the Bay Area.
Oakland is the city across the bay from San Francisco – which, I might add, has its own homeless problems. But Oakland is a separate city, and at this point it’s estimated the homeless population has jumped 63% since 2017, to well over 4,000.
Many of those people live in tent and RV encampments – or just on the streets. Officials are beginning to come up with plans to reduce those numbers, but the question is, where will those people go?
The latest plan involves what is described in media as a “former student dorm,” which could become a homeless shelter. What this really involves is a beautiful six-story building that was built in 1929. It was a one-time hotel and a YWCA. Recently, after renovations, it was leased as a dormitory for a business college. Now vacant, the county attempted to purchase it, but that fell through.
The plan now is to lease it and buy it later, because of a Biden administration directive that says such programs are eligible for 100% reimbursement until September. There’s also the possibility to use state COVID-19 money to buy buildings for unsheltered people – i.e., homeless.
The plan is to lease the 92 rooms at a maximum daily rate of $132 for an occupant and $50 for each additional occupant. To qualify for the federal funding, the people must have certain health risk factors – cancer, kidney or heart disease, obesity or pregnancy or be over 65.
In addition to the rent, the city will contract with a homeless services provider for basic operations including 24-hour shelter counselors, a shelter manager and security.
As described in the East Bay Times article on this plan, people would be encouraged to isolate because of COVID. To help with that, building residents would have meals brought in three times a day, have twice weekly housekeeping, and have access to free laundry, internet and some parking. It would also allow pets, though residents would have to pay a damage deposit.
Why do I think that with a deal like that, those “homeless” residents would never want to move out? It sounds like a nice resort hotel and it’s all free!
City staffers estimate it will take a month to move people in and hire employees. Cost per month would be about $656,000, for a total of $3.75 million for the six months. It’s hoped to continue the program for 12 months and in that time, purchase the building.
Ultimately, of course, it’s hoped either the feds or the state will continue to pay for it all.
And this isn’t everything that’s going on in the California wonderland.
A guaranteed income is being attempted. The city of Stockton tried it in 2019, led by Mayor Michael Tubbs. He said it did help people get on their feet financially. He’s now the founder of the group “Mayors for Guaranteed Income.” He says it works and that other cities are trying it.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is one of them. It’s too soon to know how it will turn out, but she is determined. She says a guaranteed income plan would supplement Social Security and SNAP benefits (food stamps) “to give families the dignity and flexibility to meet their needs.”
Oh, that’s so California …!
How about doing it statewide? Assemblyman Evan Low says it would cost up to $129 billion annually – which is more than half of the entire state budget! He says it would be paid for by a new 1% tax on income above $2 million.
Low says it’s not possible this year, but people need to get comfortable with the idea. “The initial shock seems to wear off the more people are educated and realize the benefits of having more control over their lives.”
What is this man talking about?
Nationally, the idea is circulating, and it should surprise no one that the Biden administration would welcome it. No one has made any specific proposals of what such a program would look like or how it would work, but there is at least one cost estimate.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has estimated that it would cost $2.8 trillion annually.
I’m sorry, I think I’ll stop now. I have a headache.
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