Universal income programs spreading across US: ‘I know what our people need’
At least 50 US cities have some form of UBI program in place
Low-income people and families are receiving up to $1,000 per month from dozens of cities and counties under universal basic income (UBI) programs that are spreading across the country, thanks in part to the billions of dollars provided in the 2021 American Rescue Plan.
Chicago is in the midst of an effort to give 5,000 residents $500 a month, from a $31.5 million pot of money called the Resilient Communities Pilot program. Neighboring counties are offering another $500 a month to another 3,250 residents from a $42 million fund, the New York Times reported.
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The Times said funding for these programs comes from the American Rescue Plan, which Biden signed in response to the pandemic. While conservatives are bristling at this use of the money, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot dismissed those complaints.
"These are the same people, frankly, that are attacking the very core of our democracy, demonizing being different, being the other, based upon your religion, your creed, who you love, your gender identity," Lightfoot said of grumbling from conservatives. "I’m the mayor of the city of Chicago. I know what our people need."
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The National Association of Counties met this week in Washington and was expected to announce a "network of county-level basic income programs" to match what dozens of cities are doing. The Times added that other cities like Columbia, South Carolina, Shreveport, Louisiana, and Birmingham, Alabama, are also dabbling with UBI programs.
While some of these programs are funded through Biden’s federal legislation, the president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners said the plan is to keep the county-level UBI program in place even after federal funds run out. Cook County reportedly plans to take funding from the taxes raised through cannabis sales and other taxes to keep funding UBI.
The Times reported last year that Los Angeles is mostly self-funding a $1,000 per month UBI program.
It said Oakland is giving some low-income families $600 a month for 18 months, and San Diego is giving low-income families with children $500 a month for two years.
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In Georgia, 300 residents are getting $500 a month as part of Atlanta’s UBI program, and 200 Minneapolis residents are getting $500 a month for two years.