In January 2019, Zohna Everett was sitting in an airport when her phone rang. On the other end of the line, a voice informed her that she had been randomly chosen to receive $500 a month as part of something called the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration.
When Everett had first heard about SEED a few weeks earlier, she’d wondered if it might be a scam, as things that sound too good to be true often are. Her pastor assured her that it was real — that 125 residents of poor neighborhoods in Stockton, Calif., would receive money as part of a groundbreaking experiment. When she got the call, Everett thought she was receiving a one-time payment, which was thrilling enough. Then the woman on the phone told her she’d receive $500 every month for a year and a half, with no strings attached. She nearly collapsed from joy right there in the airport.
Suddenly, Everett — who in 2018 had lost her job as a Department of Defense logistics specialist, had subsequently tried to make ends meet by driving for DoorDash, then had taken out significant unsubsidized loans to attend college online in a bid to improve her employment prospects — saw a path back to stability. She would be able to cover her car payments and the rent, to keep her phone on without giving up her monthly tithe to her church.
To read more, go here.