City of Alameda Guaranteed Income Pilot Program

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Program Description

The City of Alameda (City) is developing a Guaranteed Income (GI) Pilot Program that will provide $1,000 per month to approximately 150 low-income Alameda households over a two-year period. The Alameda City Council directed the use of $4.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the GI Pilot Program and program launch is anticipated for spring or summer of 2023. The goals of the GI Pilot Program are to reduce economic instability for program participants, help to change local narratives and perceptions surrounding poverty and the provision of public benefits, and help to support and inform the larger discussion regarding public benefits and anti-poverty policies.

Administrative Structure

The administrative structure for the City’s GI Pilot Program involves five main components:

  • City Sponsor: As the anchor for the community, City staff will provide oversight and promotion for the program.
  • Implementing Partner: The Implementing Partner is responsible for administering the program. Responsibilities will include: program support, collecting applications from potential recipients, selection and enrollment of recipients, and collaboration with other partners (e.g. the City) on outreach and communication efforts.
  • Financial Partner: The Financial Partner will be responsible for administering the financial components of the program including the distribution of monthly payments funded by the City.
  • Research Partner: The Research Partner will be responsible for designing, in collaboration with other program partners, the research component of the GI Pilot Program. A research component is important to secure benefits waivers so that GI Pilot Program participants do not risk losing benefits from other assistance programs. For instance, the State of California will not grant an income waiver for programs such as CalWORKs without an approved research component. A research component will also determine how the GI Pilot Program contributes to creating financial stability for its recipients. In addition, the information will contribute to the knowledge obtained regarding guaranteed income programs as an anti-poverty policy tool.
  • Advisory Board: An Advisory Board composed of community and advocacy organizations, individuals with lived experience (i.e. low-income persons), and City staff will be created to help inform decision-making on key programmatic elements.

Program Design

Once program partners have been selected, City staff will work with the program partners and the Advisory Board to further refine the program structure and implement an extensive and multifaceted community engagement program that will leverage existing relationships between community organizations and Alameda residents.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is eligible to apply?
    • All Alameda residents with income below a certain threshold will be eligible to apply.
    • City staff will work with selected partners to define what low-income threshold will be used for the GI Pilot Program (e.g. Federal Poverty Level, 30% of Area Median Income, etc.).
    • Eligible Alameda residents will be asked to complete a short online application (through a mobile device or computer) that may also serve as the initial survey for program participants for the research component of the GI Pilot Program.
    • The City will work with the Alameda Free Library and community organizations to provide access to computers in key locations to alleviate access concerns.
    • The application will be provided in multiple languages and designed to be accessible to a wide audience.
    • To ensure an equitable selection process, at the end of the application period, all applicants who meet the eligibility criteria will be placed into a randomized lottery to select the final participants. 
  • What will the application and selection process look like?
    • In an effort to garner a robust applicant pool, City staff will work with program partners, the Advisory Board, and front-line organizations to promote the program and conduct focused outreach within communities that include, but are not limited to, the following:
      • People experiencing or at risk of homelessness
      • Immigrant, refugee and limited English-speaking communities
      • Historically disenfranchised groups including Black, Indigenous and other communities of color
      • Low income families, including senior citizens
      • Affordable housing tenants/renters
      • People with disabilities
      • Children, youth, Alameda Unified School District families, and College of Alameda students
  • How will program participants be notified/what will the enrollment process look like?
    • Following notification of program selection, participants will be provided one-on-one orientation sessions that include a program overview and walk participants through paperwork and other elements of the enrollment process.
    • Orientation sessions may include the creation of video content and/or other methods to effectively communicate information and enthusiasm for the GI Pilot Program.
  • What steps will the GI Pilot Program take to limit the impacts on other benefits program participants receive?
    • A major concern in creating any guaranteed income program is how it may affect other benefits a recipient may also be currently receiving such as health insurance (e.g. Medicaid/Medical), housing assistance (e.g. Section 8), and food assistance (e.g. SNAP/CalFresh). The primary goal of the Alameda GI Pilot Program is to provide participants with additional economic stability. Therefore, program design will seek to limit any potential negative impacts on recipients’ economic situation due to participation in the program. Specifically, the GI Pilot Program will:
      • Work to secure income exemptions at both the State and federal levels for certain programs including, but not limited to, CalWORKS and housing assistance benefits.
      • To ensure that GI Pilot Program participants do not suffer economically from participation, in addition to seeking income exemptions for benefit programs, the City will create an approximately $50,000 “Benefit Conservation Fund” to provide compensation to recipients if they become ineligible for federal, state, county, and/or local benefits due to receiving payments.
      • The City will work GI Pilot Program partners to provide accessible and transparent information, as well as case-by-case benefits counseling, about the potential loss of benefits due to participation in the Pilot Program.
    How will potential recipients be informed on possible impacts to other benefits?
    • Program applicants will have access to resources to help determine whether existing benefits may be impacted due to participation in the GI Pilot Program. These resources may include:
      • An Alameda-specific benefits matrix that identifies, in general terms, what benefits may be impacted due to receiving cash payments.
      • An interactive tool developed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta to help program participants and other stakeholders understand the interactions between GI and public assistance support.
      • A short introductory video explaining the benefits landscape specific to Alameda County.
    • Selected program participants will be provided one-on-one access to benefits counseling so that each participant, on a case-by-case basis, can determine whether or program participation is beneficial.
    • Before program participation is finalized, City staff and program partners will ensure complete and active consent of all GI Pilot Program participants. This active consent is to ensure that GI Pilot Program participants are electing to participate while being fully aware of potential impacts to existing benefits.
  • How will cash payments be disbursed?
    • The City will work with the Financial Partner as well as other project partners to determine the payment method(s) and payment intervals.
    • Most likely, payments will be distributed monthly through a combination of direct deposits and preloaded debit cards on a predefined day in the middle of the month.
    • Payments will be structured as gift income.
  • What type of evalution of program participants will be implemented?
    • The research component of the GI Pilot Program will be developed and finalized once the program partners have been selected.  However, in general terms, program participants (and possible a control group of respondents that are not receiving payments) would be evaluated beginning prior to disbursements and extending approximately 6 months after the last payment from the GI Pilot Program.  Evaluation efforts would track quantitative metrics and will help inform both local policy making and, more broadly, the refinement of guaranteed income as an anti-poverty policy tool. 

For more information about the City of Alameda’s Guaranteed Income Pilot Program, please contact the Community Development Department at or 510-747-6890.