Comstock's magazine 1118 - November 2018 - Page 31

You’ve said Stockton can become a model for urban transformation. How so? Many of the problems other communities are grappling with — housing affordabili- ty, homelessness, violent crime, economic development or education — are in Stock- ton in spades. But Stockton doesn’t have the kind of resources available in places like San Francisco or Los Angeles to deal with them. So we say it could be a model because given the challenges we have with resources, solutions found here are going to be more scalable than you would find in much more prosperous cities. You’ve drawn a lot of attention, and criticism, for your Universal Basic Income program that will use private funding to provide some Stockton res- idents with a $500 monthly stipend. Why do you think this will work? I came to this conversation not knowing if it would work, but I think the best leaders are people that ask questions and aren’t afraid to try things. Over the past year, I’ve been listening to community mem- bers and going to town halls and learning things like how 1 in 2 Americans can’t afford even one $500 emergency, or that in Stockton rents have risen 22 percent and wages have gone down 8 percent in the last year. People are paying more and more and still falling further behind. I get emails from people who are working two or three jobs and still can’t pay the bills. That suggests to me that our economic system needs restructuring. Research has shown that an unconditional basic income does good things for people. We have models right now, like the earned income tax credit, which show that if we give people the money to do the things necessary to provide for themselves and their families, more often than not they make good decisions. Where are you with implementation? We have raised about $1.5 million, but given the amount of folks interested I’m doing my best to raise more. But at the bare minimum we will help at least 100 families for at least 18 months. The Advance Peace program has also drawn both praise and condemna- tion. Explain how this would work. For the past 30 years, Stockton has been double the state average in homicides. One of my cousins was murdered here, so when we talk about violence and violence reduction it’s very personal for me. It’s the main reason I decided to get involved in “ of whom are folks we’ve engaged with be- fore. They have evaded law enforcement because they’re still on our streets, but also have evaded getting help from our social safety net. Advance Peace is intensive relation- ship building and seven-days-a-week case management for the 25 to 50 guys who are the most likely to commit a vi- olent crime. It has seven principles, one of which is cognitive behavioral ther- apy. They have to make life maps and set goals. The controversial part is that after six months they are eligible to be part of a fellowship, so they’re getting cash for things that fellows do. Some of that controversy I understand, but a lot of it I don’t because, before I was mayor, For me, the status quo is just unacceptable. If I thought everything was OK or didn’t need radical restructuring, I could easily be doing something else without as much scrutiny. local government after I graduated from [Stanford University]. The Advance Peace program is in line with other strategies we’re running in the city to fight gang violence, but it focuses on individuals that are driving our violent crime rate rather than groups. In most cities, less than 1 percent of the population drives 70-80 percent of all the violent crime. In Stockton, that’s about 154 people, most my two previous jobs were being a fellow for Stanford and a fellow for the Emerson Collective. That means I was given money for doing a task, just like a job, which is es- sentially what these young men are doing. We’ve also been really blessed with this program because it is privately funded. So it’s a perfect complement to the work we’re doing already in violence reduction. But given the numbers we had last year, November 2018 | 31