A two-hour drive from the tech-fueled riches of San Francisco, Stockton, Calif., is a completely different world from its Silicon Valley neighbor. But the small city is taking a big bet to try to fix its lagging economy with a strategy that many of the tech elite have been largely only pontificating about: universal basic income, or cash handouts.
In 2013, Stockton became the most populous city in the United States to enter bankruptcy. The city of 300,000 was toppled when the housing bubble burst, its basic operating expenses dependent on developer fees and increasing property tax revenue that never came to bear.
Four years later, Stockton is still very much struggling. The median household income there is $44,797, well below California's median household income of $61,818, according to a statement from the city's 27-year-old mayor, Michael Tubbs. Stockton's unemployment rate is 7.3 percent, close to double the 4.3 percent national average. One in four residents live below the poverty line and 18 percent of Stocktonian residents experience food insecurity.
Mayor Tubbs sees universal basic income as a possible way to alleviate some of the pains of poverty the city is experiencing.