You could get free $500 a month, every month, for a year in Fresno County

You could get free $500 a month, every month, for a year in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – How much of a difference could $500 a month, every month, for a year make in your life?

Fresno’s EOC hopes to find an answer before applications for the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission’s guaranteed income program close on Wednesday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m.

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“$500 a month for our families who are living in poverty, it can mean a lot,” Fresno EOC’s Amanda Venegas said. “It can mean getting new shoes for their kids, it can mean paying their energy bills, their rent.”

To qualify for the program applicants must be:

  • An adult over 18

  • Reside in the 93706 or 93234 zip codes

  • Be pregnant or have a child five years old or younger

  • Have an income that is 80% of the Area Medium Income.

Venegas says any guaranteed money has the potential to alleviate stress on parents, allowing them to open themselves to opportunities that could help them escape poverty.

“Maybe they can get a babysitter so they can go to school – maybe to allow childcare so they can work extra hours,” Venegas said.

Venegas says other areas in California have gone through similar guaranteed income programs and have seen people change their lives with the extra money. She says that the money can be used for anything and does not have to go towards necessities – but that is usually where the funds go.

“What they find in other cities is that when people do get the guaranteed income in other cities,” Venegas said. “A lot of people do spend the money on basic necessities.”

According to Venegas, U.S. Census data indicates that Fresno’s poverty rate of about 21% is nearly double the state average.

She says this, along with the fact that other parts of California had received guaranteed money, motivated the Fresno EOC to move to provide money for the poverty-stricken people of Fresno.

“We applied everywhere,” Venegas said, “unfortunately the Central Valley was left out, not one agency was selected for this money and after we saw Northern and Southern California get this money – we decided we’re going to make a way out of no way.”

Over $1 million was raised to sustain the program, with the California Wellness Foundation providing half of the funding.

The Fresno EOC says their efforts will not stop until they reach their deadline and that until May 15, anyone who qualifies is urged to apply online or at the Fresno EOC’s offices.

The offices are located at the Huron Learning Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at the Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Online applications can be filled out here.

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