OlyCAP to launch income program

Data to be collected for national conference

PORT ANGELES — Twenty-five families across the North Olympic Peninsula will receive $500 a month for 12 months as part of a guaranteed income program directed toward families in need.

Olympic Community Actions Programs (OlyCAP) is launching its second pilot of a guaranteed income program next month, this time focusing on families enrolled in its early childhood services programs.

“We’re focusing very specifically on a high-needs group where we feel the funds could make the most impact,” said Tannis Sears, OlyCAP’s guaranteed income program manager.

Families will receive $500 a month for 12 months, paid in the form of a refillable debit card, and OlyCAP can track purchases broadly by category but not by specific item.

Participants are spread across Clallam and Jefferson counties, with most families located in Forks, Port Angeles and Port Townsend, Sears said.

The goal of a guaranteed income program — sometimes called universal basic income (UBI) — is to provide more freedom to participants in how they spend the funds.

Several cities and countries have piloted UBI programs, with results broadly showing increases in employment, health and mental well-being.

A 2021 study of a program in Stockton, Calif., showed a 12 percent increase in full-time employment for recipients and, in April, a study of a King County UBI program found employment for participants nearly doubled from 37 percent to 66 percent.

OlyCAP ran its first guaranteed income program in 2022 with 20 households each receiving $500 a month for 18 months.

Sears said she was not able to share information on the results of that program but said it had been a success.

While the results from the first guaranteed income program are being kept internal, Sears said data from the second round will be collected and presented at the 2025 National Community Action Partnership conference.

The research pilot will measure the impact of unrestricted cash stipends on family economic mobility, mental health, physical health and service outcomes, OlyCAP said in a news release. Program researchers are working with regional community organizations, healthcare professionals and educational institutions in Clallam, Jefferson and King counties.

While UBI programs have grown in popularity recently, they’re not without controversy, which is why OlyCAP decided to focus on families in need, Sears said. State bills in Iowa and Arizona have sought to ban UBI programs altogether.

“We’re largely taking this on because we feel since UBI is controversial,” Sears said. “Looking at a high-need population specifically, we might find there’s more acceptance.”

The 25 families were chosen by raffle, Sears said, and OlyCAP is still in the process of finalizing the details of the program, which is expected to begin Aug. 15. Research gathered about the program will keep participants’ names anonymous, and the families have signed consent forms to agree that their information be published as data.

All program participants have a household income that does not exceed 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, Sears said. The federal poverty level is set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2024, it was $15,000 for a household of one and $31,200 for a family of four.

OlyCAP’s guaranteed income program is made possible due to donations from an anonymous Sequim resident. The donor gave two payments of $200,000 to fund each of OlyCAP’s programs, and Sears said the donor has been pleased with the results.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached by email at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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