January 21, 2022

These cities and states are trying to afford a universal basic income

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the idea that the government should give people a so-called universal basic income was not exactly a common priority in most places. In fact, it sounded like one of the most radical, progressive concepts out there. Until 2020 came and rocked so much of the establishment. Thanks to everything from widespread lockdowns to strict health measures that crippled dozens of businesses and led to mass layoffs, all of which arguably provided air cover for politicians to experiment with UBI. Especially when they have been throwing dollops of stimulus money at the Americans in recent years anyway.

These kinds of payments and initiatives are worth keeping a close eye on, especially now. That’s because the momentum has stalled new stimulus checks Bee the federal level. And time will tell whether that is a temporary or permanent situation.

“A fairer, more just society”

supporters on Twitter and elsewhere claim that UBI can help create a “fairer society”. Below we’ll take a closer look at some of the places where this is being attempted.

Cities that have been launched these kinds of initiatives last year included Los Angeles, as well as Columbia, South Carolina. Local officials in Rochester, New York, recently approved the payment of $500 monthly checks to 175 low-income families there. Those payments go out in 12 months (thus adding up to $6,000 in total).

Next year? Another group of 175 Rochester families will receive the $500 payments. Also important to note: Very often, regardless of locality, the target of such payments is a specific demographic. In Rochester’s case, the recipients are households at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

Other Universal Basic Income Experiments

At the same time, New York State is targeting a different group of people. An initiative called Creatives Rebuild New York, launched by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will provide a total of $125 million over three years to as many as 2,700 artists.

Most of those artists receive a non-binding fee. While a small fraction of that group is paid for art-related work statewide.

The city of Newark, New Jersey, meanwhile, a UBI program there recently expanded to 400 residents. Each of the participants will receive a total of $12,000 over two years. The participants are low-income and have to prove some kind of hardship due to the Covid pandemic.

“At a time when our city continues to face the challenges of COVID-19 and its economic impact, the largest and most important institution we should invest in is families,” said Newmark Mayor Ras Baraka. program announcement. “This will give our residents a much-needed boost and enable them to participate in the economy, regain their economic self-sufficiency and strength and move towards prosperity.”

A similar effort is also underway in Durham, North Carolina. There, 115 former inmates will receive payments of $500 a month under the city’s Excel pilot program for a year. The aim is “to evaluate the effects of guaranteed income on recidivism and re-incarceration, employment, economic security and income volatility.”


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