New Orleans Receives $500,000 from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income

Photo Courtesy of Mayor Cantrell’s Facebook

New Orleans has secured $500,000 from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) to support vulnerable residents struggling to pay their bills.

The funds are part of a $15 million grant provided by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as part of his #startsmall initiative. MGI is distributing the new funds to launch or expand guaranteed income pilots in a number of U.S. cities, including New Orleans. Other cities on the list include  Columbia, SC; Los Angeles, CA; Madison, WI; Pittsburgh, PA; Providence, RI; Richmond, VA; Tacoma, WA; and St. Paul, MN. Additional cities are expected to be added to the program later.

Support for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is growing across the U.S., particularly as families have been hard-hit by coronavirus lockdowns. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2018 60 percent of adults under 30, and 45 percent of American adults overall supported the idea of a UBI of at least $1000 per month. However, following extended pandemic-related lockdowns and layoffs, 76 percent of Americans support direct cash payments as a form of COVID-19 relief, and 55 percent support the idea of continuing those payments indefinitely.

“As Mayors, we see the impact of this pandemic on our people every day. Many urgently require help with basic needs. Job losses and school closures mean people now have many expenses they didn’t have before. Roughly 44,000 are unemployed in New Orleans due to the pandemic,” said Mayor Cantrell in a press release. “Nothing helps a struggling family like money in the pocket, and nowhere is that more apparent than among Black Americans — who are more likely to be unemployed but less likely to get unemployment benefits. We need rapid and responsive solutions now; this is the time to invest directly in our people.”

Cantrell pointed to the fact that Louisiana spends more than $175 per resident each year on prisons and incarceration, noting that giving the most vulnerable residents cash payments could save the state valuable budget dollars. Louisiana currently spends nearly $77,000 on housing inmates in jail.

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