Financial assistance

Mountain View chooses 3 paths to fight against local poverty | New


Mountain View city council last week continued its major efforts to help the city’s underserved – actions that come as the state’s moratorium on housing evictions has expired.

Using $ 3 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the council gives $ 1 million to the nonprofit Community Services Agency, which meets basic needs like food and shelter; $ 1 million to the Mountain View Solidarity Fund, which helps struggling Latin American families; and $ 1 million for the Guaranteed Basic Income (RGB) pilot program.

The measures come as large numbers of residents continue to struggle – a situation exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the September 30 expiration of a moratorium on housing evictions across the country. State. City statistics show that approximately 6,480 households earn less than $ 50,000 per year for a family of four.

It was the Basic Income program that received the most board attention during the September 28 study session, especially from board member Lisa Matichak. She estimated that there was not enough data on the effectiveness of a program that would offer lump sum payments – in this case, $ 500 per month for one year for 166 eligible families. The focus is on very low income families with children.

Such programs have proven to be controversial. Supporters see GBI programs as a way to rise above poverty, reducing financial stress so residents can continue their education and gain skills for better jobs. Former US presidential candidate Andrew Yang, a big supporter of Basic Income, expressed his support for the Mountain View agenda at a recent pro-GBI rally.

But critics wonder if unconditional income will lead to less work.

“I feel like I would like more data before I go ahead with something like this,” Matichak said. “It’s a program that will unfold over time, and I think our community needs help now. I would like to wait.

Mountain View resident Bruce Karney recalled research into the effectiveness of such programs 40 years ago at the Stanford Research Institute.

“One of the things they found is that the subsidies actually reduce the rate of participation in the labor market,” he said, “it’s not surprising because most of the poor are working. very long hours and giving them money allows them to cut back a bit and spend more time with their families.… (Plus), short-term programs don’t give people the time they need to change their life.

Other board members balked at the program costs related to research and data collection ($ 150,000), administrative support ($ 150,000) and “tax payment processors” ($ 30,000 to $ 50,000).

“Personally, I would rather donate this money and not go to school, especially with the expiration of the moratorium on evictions,” said board member Alison Hicks. “Less money for education, more money for needs.”

Council members suggested the city could seek nonprofit or corporate partnerships to help defray research costs.

Despite some concerns, the advice was overwhelmingly supportive.

Vice Mayor Lucas Ramirez, while acknowledging the GBI as an idea “coming out of left field”, expressed his support.

“One-off help (like rental aid) doesn’t go far,” he said. “Households do not want to go into debt (with the owners). One-time cash assistance will never be an effective tool for poverty reduction – I want to help those living in precarious housing conditions.

Board member Margaret Abe-Koga said she was impressed with the research collected so far – she pointed to a finding that GBI’s programs have led to a 25% reduction in poverty. In addition, she believed that a municipal program could contribute to the overall progress of GBI programs at the national level. She also said the program should be extended for one year – an option that is included in Mountain View GBI’s proposal.

“My feeling is that it would take more than a year to see results and also to provide effective assistance,” she said.

“I really feel obligated to help our most vulnerable and it will do just that,” said Mayor Ellen Kamei. “Some barely survive in Mountain View. I see it as a lifeline. … We don’t see the job stability we thought we could see when government reopened in June. We must do all we can to support our community. “

The GBI proposal is expected to return to the board in November or December for possible adoption.

Further help

Of the $ 1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated to the CSA, $ 750,000 is allocated for direct financial assistance to Mountain View residents and an additional $ 250,000 at the discretion of the non-profit agency. lucrative.

“The funding allows the CSA to provide a wide range of financial assistance,” according to a staff report, including assistance with rent and utilities, vehicle repairs and health care expenses.

The last million dollars will go to the Mountain View Solidarity Fund, an all-volunteer effort that began in the spring of 2020 in direct response to the hardships induced by COVID. The Solidarity Fund includes eight Latino volunteers who serve as informal leaders in the Latino community. So far, the fund has raised $ 120,000 through individual donations and grants, helping 110 households. The aim is to raise funds and provide financial assistance to undocumented people who have not been able to access other economic aid programs.

The new Los Altos Mountain View Community Foundation serves as a “nonprofit incubator,” according to city staff, helping with fundraising and communications. It receives donations, recognizes donors, and helps complete reporting requirements. The foundation has been working with supporters of the Solidarity Fund since last December.

Board member Sally Lieber reflected the support of the entire board when she praised the fund, noting that it was “a very powerful model to have a group of Latin community members working together. in this way to help families very, very quickly “.

An agreement between the city and the foundation to administer the Solidarity Fund is to be submitted to the council for approval at its meeting on Tuesday.

Clinics offered

As the statewide moratorium on evictions ended on September 30, the city of Mountain View launched Eviction Assistance Center clinics as part of an ongoing effort to reduce evictions linked to the COVID pandemic.

Clinics are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through mid-December at the Mountain View Public Library, 585 Franklin St.

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