Stimulus update: Monthly payment programs to tackle inflation and homelessness gain traction in major US cities
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Excited by the positive impact stimulus payments and expanding child tax credits have had on residents, many US cities are experimenting with direct monthly payment or universal basic income (UBI) programs.
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A few dozen cities in the United States are experimenting with guaranteed income programs. They differ in target demographics, qualification criteria and income, payout amounts and number of participants, but all test related policies.
Austin, Texas is one of the latest cities to implement an extra payment trial program. The Austin City Council voted May 5 to approve a one-year, $1 million pilot program, by Click2Houston – a program that involves the city of Austin sending $1,000 checks to 85 households who risk losing their homes. Austin officials are still planning how the program will work and which families will receive the money.
In addition to helping residents who have an eviction case filed against them, the payments are expected to help those struggling to pay their utility bills and people who are already homeless. However, those who qualify will have no restrictions on how they can spend the money.
Direct payment type programs have been successfully implemented in major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans and Pittsburgh. Los Angeles’ BIG:LEAP program, for example, is funding 3,200 local low-income families with $1,000 a month for one year, according to the US Sun. According to the same source, New Orleans is offering teens $350 a month (for 10 months) this spring as part of a statewide financial education program.
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The Magnolia Mother’s Trust initiative in Jackson, Mississippi has been operational since 2018 and helps low-income black mothers by offering $1,000 a month for one year with no stipulations. Meanwhile, the Excel program in Durham, North Carolina, is primarily funded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and offers $500 a month to formerly (and recently) incarcerated people.
The proliferation of related pilot and trial programs is set to continue, with issues surrounding Universal Basic Income and Guaranteed Income continuing to dominate the headlines.
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