‘Guaranteed Income’ Could Be Coming to SF Under Sup. Matt Haney’s Proposal

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The idea of a universal basic income has been gaining support amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but the idea has really been around for hundreds of years. Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang popularized the idea with his concept of the Freedom Dividend, which would have given “$1,000 a month, [or] $12,000 a year, for every American adult over the age of 18.” But KGO broke the news broke on September 1 that Supervisor Matt Haney was introducing a proposal to “get behind universal basic income program,” so we wanted more information on who might get that income, and how much money they might get. 

All we had to go on was a three-minute speech Haney gave at the Sept. 1 Board of Supervisors meeting (Video here, it starts at the 55:00 mark). So we reached out Matt Haney directly to get the details on the guaranteed income program he’s proposing for San Francisco.

“During the pandemic, we saw billionaires add massive wealth to their own net worth and profits,” Haney tells “The brutality of people who literally do not have enough for food and basic necessities and rent while billionaires are making many more hundreds of billions of dollars in the last few months really added to this momentum for a guaranteed income.”

His proposal now exists as a piece of legislation entitled Supporting Guaranteed Income and Direct Cash Payments. And he notes that it’s a “guaranteed income” proposal, which is not the same as Andrew Yang’s ‘$1,000 a month for everyone’ universal basic income proposal. 

“The difference is that ‘guaranteed income’ is specifically for people who are in need, who are lower income or part of targeted groups,” he says. “That’s different than universal basic income, which sometimes can be targeted but is often thought of as something that everybody would receive. For example, Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend where basically every American would get a check. Guaranteed income is more explicitly to address poverty.”

With so many businesses shut down over the COVID-19 pandemic, he notes that many San Franciscans have no chance at income and need direct financial support. “It’s needed in San Francisco for reasons that are probably clearer during this pandemic than  ever before,” Haney tells us. “We have many people in our city who are either unemployed, or working full-time and in some cases multiple jobs, but cannot afford basic necessities.

“The simplest and most direct efficient way to address the fact that a family or a person doesn’t have enough money is to directly give them money, so that they can provide for themselves.” 

The San Francisco wealth gap is most evident in Haney’s District 6. The average income in the Tenderloin is barely $20,000 a year, while just a mile away, it’s $140,000 in Rincon Hill.

“In my district in particular, we have the wealthiest zip code and the poorest zip code, which is a massive gap economically within a one-mile radius,” according to Haney. “The people who are bringing in just twenty or thirty thousand dollars a year for their families are still expected to pay the same prices and compete in the same rental market, as those that are making millions and billions.

“On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, I want to put San Francisco on the record as part of that broader movement, and make that clear commitment that we would develop a pilot here locally as well. And we would push collectively with these cities and leaders to see guaranteed income expanded at the federal level.”

Haney’s bill currently lacks any specifics or dollar amounts, and we were worried this was just some sort of student senate type resolution calling for the federal government to pay the income, while not committing to actually doing anything. But Haney insists that more details are coming. 

“I’m working on what exactly that pilot program would look like,” he says. “We’re having meetings with the Human Rights Commission, the Treasurer’s office, and we’re going to be planning some announcements.

“We want to make sure we get it right and have a clear plan around it before we announce exactly who is going to get how much money, and how to qualify, and everything else.”

Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey did introduce a federal bill calling for  $2,000 a month for most Americans for the rest of the pandemic, but that shit’s probably going nowhere in Mitch McConnell’s Senate. Still, a guaranteed income program that started in Stockton, CA has spawned similar pilot programs in Oakland, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, with guaranteed amounts varying for $500 to $1,000 a month for a small number of qualifying people.

Now San Francisco could be next to buck the inequality trend, with 500 to 1,000 bucks a month for some recipients.


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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.