Applications are now open for the Old Fourth Ward’s new ‘Guaranteed Income’ scheme. It is intended for black women affected by COVID-19 and living near the poverty line.
More than 200 applicants in Atlanta will be randomly selected to receive two years of payments of approximately $850 per month.
The amount of aid to be distributed and the structure of the program were created in consultation with community members and experts.
An Economic Security Task Force has been launched in the former Fourth Ward to examine the impacts of rising levels of income inequality in the area. The group also conducted a survey and held listening sessions with residents.
“The task force recommended that the program be focused on black women, and that was largely driven by the trends we’re seeing. Black women face truly disproportionate barriers to income stability and wealth creation, more than almost any other group,” says Hope Wollensack, who heads the Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund.
“They are one of the groups most likely to not only be born into poverty, but also to remain stuck in poverty.”
The direct cash payment model has long been studied as an anti-poverty intervention, notably in Jackson, Mississippi, home to one of America’s first guaranteed income programs, the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which began in 2018.
This program distributes $1,000 a month – unconditionally for 12 months – to very low-income families headed by a black woman, and its data shows that participants reported an increase in the ability to pay all their bills on time without support. , saving money for an unexpected emergency and getting food and other basic needs.
Similar to the Jackson program, the Atlanta program has no spending requirements tied to the funds to be distributed, Wollensack says.
“The unconditional component is really not just about what the research says, it’s also about respecting agency, autonomy, and people’s choice,” she says, “to make the choices that work best for them and have the flexibility to do that.
Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood is the first of three Georgia locations to pilot a guaranteed income program.
Later this summer, a second site will launch for residents of Clay, Terrell, and Randolph counties in southwest Georgia. Details on the third location have yet to be announced.
Eligibility information and applications can be found at www.InHerHands.us.