Baltimore is launching a guaranteed income pilot program that will provide $1,000 per month, no strings attached, to 200 young parents in Baltimore for two years.
To be eligible for the program, an individual must be a resident of the city between the ages of 18 and 24, be a parent or guardian of adopted or biological children, and have a household income no higher than three times the federal poverty level. Applications will open May 2 and close May 9, and participants will be selected randomly out of the pool of applicants.
“We know that hardship has been compounded by the pandemic. This program will help combat the economic fallout from COVID-19 by assisting parents who have been the hardest hit through the pandemic,” Mayor Brandon Scott said at a news conference announcing the program’s launch on Wednesday. “It will put them in a position to bounce back from the pandemic and get their lives and their children’s lives back on track.”
Scott first announced that he planned to develop a guaranteed income pilot program for Baltimore last year; a steering committee has been working to create the program ever since.
The money for the program will come from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, and costs for the program will be funded by the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success as well as a number of philanthropic partners, including CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Abell Foundation, the France-Merrick Foundation and The Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund.
Baltimore is partnering with several other organizations to administer the program. The CASH Campaign of Maryland, a nonprofit focused on economic mobility for lower-income Marylanders, will set up “application assistance sites” to help Baltimoreans fill out the application, an online form that could take up to an hour and a half to complete, according to Scott. Because receiving $1,000 monthly could impact some people’s eligibility for benefits, the CASH Campaign will also provide counseling to everyone selected for the program to ensure that it is right for them.
Steady, a financial technology company, has been tapped to distribute the money to participants. The company has previously participated in over two dozen similar programs, co-founder and CEO Adam Roseman said during Wednesday’s announcement. (The company’s other co-founder is former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who sent a video message to the news conference, saying that he is “excited to join the city of Baltimore to tackle income inequality and reverse the historic trends that have left so many people locked out of opportunity.”)
Several organizations — Abt Associates, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Center for Guaranteed Income Research — will work to study the effects of the pilot program, looking at how participants spend their money and how the funds end up affecting their finances in the long term
Guaranteed income is an economic mobility strategy being tried in cities across America. According to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, as of the end of 2021, at least 15 cities had launched pilot programs and 63 mayors had joined the organization in support of guaranteed income (including two others in Maryland — College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn and Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart).
Research on the nation’s first guaranteed income program in Stockton, California, which supplied $500 a month to 125 people, has indicated that guaranteed income can be effective in helping participants fund their basic needs, support their families and neighbors, overcome financial hurdles and find employment. Participants in the program secured full-time jobs at twice the rate of the study’s control group.
“We are putting money directly in the hands of our residents because they know, more than anyone else, what their families need to ascend the ladder of opportunity, something that has been denied to them for far too long,” Scott said.