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City approves direct cash payments to residents who identify as transgender
PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 07: Parade goers participate in the Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade on November 07, 2021 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

City council members in Palm Springs, California approved a new pilot program providing monthly payments to transgender individuals to spend however they please.

The city will allocate $200,000 to provide the no-strings-attached payments to 20 individuals who identify as either transgender or non-binary, according to The Los Angeles Times. Additional state and other funding is also expected to be applied for throughout the program's construction which is still ongoing. 

The new pilot program, which will offer direct cash payments of $600 to $900 to participants, was approved by the Palm Springs City Council on a unanimous vote.

The city will hand the allocated funds over to two groups tasked with designing the program – DAP Health, a federally funded healthcare group, and Queer Works, a nonprofit that supports LGBT individuals.

Some critics of the program are concerned that unlike similar programs in the state and around the country, the new guaranteed income pilot program in Palm Springs may be providing payments to qualified individuals regardless of their earnings level.

“At least some of them have minimum income requirements to qualify, whereas this one is no-strings-attached ‘woke’ virtue signaling to the LGBT community in a way that is not only offensive but discriminatory,” said former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican who was the city’s first openly gay council member, according to Fox News. DeMaio added he was "completely opposed to guaranteed or universal basic income programs, because they ultimately cause inflation and raise the cost of living on everyone," arguing they simply "don't work."

The National Desk (TND) spoke with Councilmember Christy Holstege, who initiated the council's vote on the program. She was unable to confirm whether income level will be factored into the program's eligibility requirements but said it was her understanding it would be. 

"My understanding is that, yes, it’s a poverty program and that it would be designed for low-income residents,” Holstege told TND, noting the program's design process was still not entirely complete. "I wouldn't expect that it would be given to people at all income levels."

Holstege later confirmed there will be income eligibility requirements to participate in the program.  

The mayor of Palm Springs, Lisa Middleton, who is transgender, also opposed the program despite voting in favor of it, according to The Times. She noted the need for community assistance is “absolutely real,” but said she generally disfavored guaranteed income programs and feared the program’s potential inability to “scale up to the magnitude of the issues that are before us,” citing 400,000 people living below the poverty line in the county.

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

Queer Works Chief Executive Officer Jacob Rostovsky indicated a preliminary total budget for the program was $1.8 million, according to The Times.

“This is a chance to help individuals receive money that we can think of as a subsidy — to subsidize the gap in income that the trans and nonbinary community faces due to having some of the highest levels of unemployment in this country,” Rostovsky said.

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