Stimulus Update: Monthly Payment Programs to Combat Inflation and Homelessness Gain Traction in Larger US Cities
Stirred by the positive impact that stimulus payments and expanded child tax credits had on residents, many American cities are experimenting with monthly direct payment or universal basic income (UBI) programs moving forward.
A few dozen cities in the United States are experimenting with guaranteed income programs. They differ in target demographics, qualifying criteria and income, payment amounts and number of participants, but all are testing out related policies.
Austin, Texas, is one of the latest cities to roll out a trial supplementary payment program. Austin’s city council voted on May 5 to approve a yearlong, $1 million dollar pilot program, per Click2Houston — a program which involves the City of Austin sending checks of $1,000 to 85 households that are at risk of losing their homes. Austin officials are still planning how the program will work and which families will receive money.
In addition to aiding residents who have an eviction case filed against them, it is anticipated that the payments will help those having trouble paying their utility bills and people already experiencing homelessness. However, those who qualify won’t have restrictions on how they can spend the money.
Direct payment-type programs have been successfully established in larger metropolises like Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans and Pittsburgh. Los Angeles’ BIG: LEAP program, for example, funds 3,200 local low-income families to the tune of $1,000 monthly for a year, per the U.S. Sun. According to the same source, New Orleans is offering teens $350 per month (for 10 months) this spring as part of a state-wide financial literacy program.
The Magnolia Mother’s Trust initiative in Jackson, Mississippi, has been in operation since 2018 and helps low-income Black mothers by offering them $1,000 a month for a year without stipulations. Meanwhile, the Durham, North Carolina, Excel program is primarily funded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and offers $500 per month to the formerly (and recently) incarcerated.
The proliferation of related pilot and trial programs is expected to continue, with questions surrounding universal basic income and guaranteed income continuing to dominate headlines.