MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter signed an executive order Thursday creating a pilot program offering guaranteed income of $500 a month for families in low-income neighborhoods that have also been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
The People’s Prosperity Pilot will provide 150 families with $500 per month for 18 months. The money will come with no strings attached, such as work requirements. The cash is meant to supplement the existing social safety net and thereby become a tool for a more equitable city.
“More than ever before, this economic crisis has pushed families into crisis, struggling to maintain basic necessities for their children,” said the mayor, in a statement. “This demonstration pilot is an exciting new approach to support our most vulnerable families while helping build the case for permanent guaranteed income programs at state and federal levels.”
Households for the pilot will be randomly selected from those already enrolled in the CollegeBound St. Paul program and living in the most racially diverse and low-income neighborhoods. Families must also show that they’ve been financially affected by the pandemic.
The budget for the program is expected to be upwards of $1.5 million. The funding will come from the Mayors For Guaranteed Income network, philanthropy, and the city’s CARES funds. The first cash payments, which will be distributed through a U.S. Bank Focus Card, are expected to be issued this fall.
Assessment for the pilot will be determined by the Mayors for Guaranteed Income Network and a city-assembled circle of advisors.
Carter is a member of the Mayors for Guaranteed Income Network, which is pushing to use cities as laboratories for the concept of universal basic income. Other cities exploring pilot programs are Milwaukee, Chicago and Atlanta.
More information about St. Paul’s pilot program can be found here.