Trans and non-binary people to get guaranteed income in groundbreaking Palm Springs trial

Palm Springs mayor Lisa Middleton

Palm Springs, California will give a group of trans and non-binary citizens a guaranteed income in a new pilot.

According to Los Angeles Times, Palm Springs’ city council voted unanimously in favour of developing a guaranteed income program to support the trans community on March 24.

They allocated $200,000 for the pilot, which will provide monthly payments of $600 to $900 to 20 participants who are transgender or non-binary to spend as they wish. Another 20 people will be monitored as a control group.

Local non-profit Queer Works is one of the organisations tasked with designing the pilot.

Its chief executive Jacob Rostovsky, who is trans, said at the meeting: “This is a chance to help individuals receive money that we can think of as a subsidy — to subsidise the gap in income that the trans and non-binary community faces due to having some of the highest levels of unemployment in this country.”

Queer Works will work with DAP Health, which supports people living with HIV and AIDS, putting together a funding application and consulting the local trans and non-binary community.

Palm Springs mayor Lisa Middleton, who is also trans, said that the community has “absolutely real” needs – but has “serious concerns” about the success of the pilot.

“My serious concern is the ability of these guaranteed income programs to scale up to the magnitude of the issues that are before us,” Middleton told the Los Angeles Times, highlighting that in Riverside County over 400,000 people are living below the poverty line.

“I have been wrong many times,” Middleton added. “I could be wrong again on this one.”

Thomi Clinton, CEO of local Transgender Health and Wellness Center and trans elder, told PinkNews: “I am hoping that Lisa Middleton uses her voice as the transgender mayor to make this an RFP program for all trans programs to access, and not allow this to be another cisgender program monopolizing on the suffering of others.”

A 2013 study revealed that in the US, transgender people experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole. They were also four times more likely to have a household income of under $10,000.

In 2017, Palms Springs elected a wholly LGBT+ council.