Some Oregon residents could get $1,000 per month for the next two years if a new proposal from the state senate is approved. If approved, this proposal for regular stimulus checks from Oregon would be the first ever universal basic income program from the state.
Proposed Universal Basic Income Program: What Is It?
Sen. Wlnsvey Campos, D-Aloha, proposed Senate Bill 603 to assist unhoused or low-income individuals for two years. This universal basic income program is a pilot program to gauge how the regular $1,000 stimulus checks from Oregon affect the ability of recipients to secure stable housing or improve their wellbeing.
At a public hearing earlier this month, Campos said the objective of the universal basic income program is to “support Oregonians struggling to pay their rent and meet their basic needs and to demonstrate the benefit that direct financial assistance provides both to low-income Oregonians and the state.”
The proposal calls for setting aside $25 million to run the guaranteed income pilot program through 2025 and fund a study by Portland State University’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative to better understand the impact of the program. The primary objective of the study is to determine whether or not the program should be continued and expanded to cover more people going forward.
According to the proposal, the $25 million would be used to establish a People's Housing Assistance Fund Demonstration Program, which will be administered by the Department of Human Services. The pilot program will cover 1,000 residents.
Who Will Get the Regular $1,00 Stimulus Checks From Oregon?
Under the program, preference will be given to residents who are homeless, at a risk of homelessness, are severely rent burdened, or earn 60% below the area median income.
The proposal doesn’t specify who will get priority in that category, but it does mention that people already receiving housing assistance or those earning over 60% of their area’s median income would not be eligible for the program.
Although there are no restrictions on using the money, proponents of the bill expect recipients to use it to pay rent or cover emergency expenses, food, and childcare.
Those against the program questioned the participants' ability to use the no-strings-attached money responsibly. Some also argue that spending it directly on housing and behavioral healthcare would be a better use of the funds. To counter this, proponents of the program cited federal pandemic stimulus payments and the expanded child tax credit as examples of unrestricted money that was well spent.
Additionally, similar programs in other regions, including Washington D.C.; Jackson, Mississippi; Stockton, California; and throughout Canada showed that recipients used the money to improve their financial, emotional and physical health.
As of now, it is unclear if Campos’ proposal for regular $1,000 stimulus checks from Oregon will gather enough support to become law. However, the bill is expected to face hurdles, considering that Gov. Tina Kotek has already announced a massive housing and homelessness package that excludes Campos’ proposal.