Guaranteed income pilot programs in St. Paul, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and cities across America received a $15 million boost on Tuesday.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is donating $15 million to programs across the country, the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income group announced Tuesday. The more than two dozen mayors participating in the group, including St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, will each receive up to $500,000 to grow or sustain their programs. This builds on Dorsey’s initial $3 million donation last summer.
Carter, who launched a guaranteed income pilot program this fall, was one of a series of mayors who gave impassioned speeches in support of the concept at the virtual announcement.
“If we can leverage the power of city government to help more families make money work for them, we can unleash the creativity, unleash the potential of our entire community,” Carter said.
Other mayors joining Carter at the event included Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
In September, Carter signed an executive order establishing the People’s Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot, which will provide $500 monthly payments to 150 randomly selected families in four of the city’s lowest-income ZIP codes.
Carter joined the fledging mayors’ group, formed by Stockton, Calif., Mayor Michael Tubbs, earlier this year.
Carter said the pilot projects in St. Paul and around the country are already disproving “racist tropes” that “‘If you give those people money, here’s what they’d do with it.’”
“We’ve seen in Stockton, we’ve seen in St. Paul and we are seeing around the country that when low-income families have a little bit more money at the end of the month, they pay rent. They buy groceries. They get a car fixed up or get a bus card so they can get to work,” Carter said. “They do things that benefit our entire community.”
St. Paul’s $1.5 million pilot program is being paid for with federal CARES Act and philanthropic dollars. To qualify, families have to demonstrate financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayors said Tuesday that they are prepared to weather political backlash; Tubbs said it’s more galling that babies in the richest country in the world are sleeping in tents and cars.
“The biggest surprise to me is here we are 60 years into a war on poverty and the notion of investing directly into low-income families still feels strange and revolutionary,” Carter said.
“This is about a shift in how we value our resources and how we value our community members.”
The mayor’s group is partnering with the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice to establish the Center for Guaranteed Income Research to gather and analyze data and other information from the pilot projects.
For more information and updates about St. Paul’s guaranteed income pilot, visit stpaul.gov/prosperity.