A new pilot program for providing financial support for transgender and non-binary people is in the works in Palm Springs.
Hoping to tap into millions of dollars in state funding to help LGBTQ homelessness and poverty, Palm Springs city council last week put up $200,000 toward researching and designing such a program. The city is partnering with local non-profit organizations DAP Health and Queer Works.
Transgender people are "one of the most marginalized populations in our city who face some of the highest levels of housing insecurity, joblessness and discrimination," said David Brinkman, CEO and president of DAP Health.
"This is a chance to help individuals receive money... to subsidize the gap in income that the trans and non-binary community faces, due to having some of the highest levels of unemployment in this country," said Queerk Works founder and creator Jacob Rostovsky.
The money, which could total $600 to $900 for 20 participants each month, would come after applying for millions of dollars from the state budget. About 50 percent of the funding would have to be matched by other donors.
"The state has $35 million available for these programs and our trans and non-binary residents need a piece of that pie," Brinkman said.
Councilmember Christy Holstege said there's an urgency to tap into that money, but she believes Palm Springs stands a good chance at being selected.
"Since there are very few inland California cities that are doing these pilot programs, we might be at the top of the list for state funding," Holstege said. "The state wants to distribute this equitably."
The council's vote was unanimously in support, but Mayor Lisa Middleton worried about the small scale of the project – citing the 400,000 residents under the poverty line in Riverside County.
"My serious concern is the ability of these guaranteed income programs to scale up to the magnitude of the issues before us," Middleton said.
"We estimate we will bring well over $1 million dollars to Palm Springs and it will translate into improved housing and healthcare outcomes," Brinkman said.