Pathway to Income Equity
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for almost everyone, but some members of our Sonoma County community were far more vulnerable and proven far more likely to suffer negative health and/or economic impacts. With the dual cost burdens of housing and child care in one of the most expensive areas to live in our state, more than half of Sonoma County families with children under 5 years old chronically struggle to make ends meet.
The Sonoma County Pathway to Income Equity pilot is based on the simple idea that the best investments we can make are in lifting up the most marginalized members of our community, and especially the very youngest, because the greatest opportunity to ensure children succeed in school and life is during the first five years of life. In February 2023, we began giving 305 families with very young children a guaranteed income of $500/month, continuing for 24 months. This income is unconditional, meaning there are no strings attached; parents decide how best to use the cash. The PIE guaranteed income pilot aspires to prove to supporters and skeptics alike that poverty results from a lack of cash, not character.
"A guaranteed income for parents impacts the whole family, disrupting intergenerational poverty cycles by simultaneously helping parents build financial security and providing children the resources and stable environment they need to flourish."
Executive Director, First 5 Sonoma County
Sonoma County Families
NOTE: "HDI" in the above map legend stands for Human Development Index, as referenced and described in the 2021 Portrait of Sonoma County Update.