The concept of providing a guaranteed basic income to some residents is catching on in a big way in several U.S. cities and at least one state.
Local governments are offering monthly payments — often with few strings attached and no work requirements — to specific groups of people who are at the economic margins.
These programs can be controversial. Some see them as a form of economic justice, a way to ensure poorer Americans can make ends meet. But critics see them as an expensive and unfair use of taxpayer money, although private donations fund many of these programs.
Time will tell whether providing guaranteed income is successful. For now, here are some places offering regular payments to some of their residents.
1. New York state
Program: Guaranteed Income for Artists, run by Creatives Rebuild New York.
Who it’s for: New York state residents who identify as artists and who have financial need based on the Self-Sufficiency Standard.
What each participant receives: No-strings-attached cash payments of $1,000 per month for 18 months.
Key dates: Applications must be submitted by March 25, 2022. Participants will be notified of their selection and next steps by April 15, 2022.
2. San Francisco
Program: The San Francisco Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists (SF-GIPA), run by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)
Who it’s for: San Francisco artists who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and specifically “artists who have low incomes and for Black/African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Latinx, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and immigrant artists,” according to YBCA.
What each participant receives: No-strings-attached cash payments of $1,000 per month for 18 months
Key dates: The program’s 130 participants received the first of 18 monthly payments in May 2021.
3. Columbia, South Carolina
Program: Columbia Life Improvement Monetary Boost (CLIMB), run by the Central Carolina Community Foundation.
Who it’s for: CLIMB provides a temporary guaranteed income of $500 to around 100 fathers who were enrolled in or recently a part of a program with the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition. The goal is to “determine the effectiveness of local, consistent, and unconditional cash transfers to aid fathers and families.”
What each participant receives: Recipients get 12 monthly $500 payments loaded onto a debit card.
Key dates: The first of the program’s 100 participants reportedly began receiving monthly payments in September 2021. The initiative is intended to run for 24 months.
4. St. Paul, Minnesota
Program: Guaranteed Income for Artists, run by Springboard for the Arts.
Who it’s for: This program provides guaranteed income with no strings attached and no requirement to work to 25 artists adversely impacted by COVID-19 and who are from two neighborhoods in St. Paul. According to the program website, “at least 75% of recipients will be Black, Native and/or People of Color.”
What each participant receives: Recipients get $500 of unrestricted monthly support.
Key dates: The program began in April 2021 and lasts for 18 months.
5. Durham, North Carolina
Program: Excel, run by StepUp Durham.
Who it’s for: This program — funded primarily through private sources — provides guaranteed income to 129 randomly selected, formerly incarcerated individuals. Eligibility is limited to those who are low-income and are within five years of their incarceration. Among other goals, Excel is intended “to evaluate guaranteed income’s effects on recidivism and re-incarceration.”
What each participant receives: Recipients get $500 of monthly support for one year.
Key dates: Payments began late last year and early this year, and the program runs through January 2023.
6. Stockton, California
Who it’s for: This program — funded entirely through private donations — provided guaranteed income to 125 randomly selected residents of Stockton. There were no strings attached and no work requirements.
What each participant receives: Recipients got $500 of monthly support for 24 months.
Key dates: Payments began February 2019 and lasted for 24 months. A study found that the program reduced income volatility and helped participants find jobs.
7. Newark, New Jersey
Program: Newark Movement for Economic Equity (NMEE), run by the City of Newark
Who it’s for: This program provides guaranteed income to more than 400 residents of Newark. There are no strings attached and no work requirements, and the program is focused on assisting those who are deemed to be housing insecure. Recipients must be residents of the New Jersey city with income at or below 200% of the federal poverty line.
What each participant receives: Half of the recipients receive bi-weekly payments of $250 while the rest receive semi-annual payments of $3,000.
Key dates: The program began with 30 recipients in the fall of 2021, and payments last for 24 months. A second phase kicked off at the end of 2021 and includes another 400 recipients.
8. Shreveport, Louisiana
Program: Shreveport Guaranteed Income Program, run by the City of Shreveport
Who it’s for: This program provides guaranteed income to 110 households. There are no strings attached and no work requirements. Recipients must be single parents with an income below 120% of the federal poverty level.
What each participant receives: Recipients receive monthly stipends of $660.
Key dates: Registration closed on Jan. 17. No word yet on when payments will begin.