Richmond mayor to launch guaranteed income pilot
18 working families to receive $500 a month
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney unveiled a guaranteed income pilot program on Thursday that will give 18 working families $500 a month for 24 months.
The city, in partnership with the Robins Foundation, has launched the Richmond Resilience Initiative. The program is intended to benefit families who no longer qualify for benefits assistance but still do not earn a living wage.
“The Richmond Resilience Initiative pilot will go far in both supporting hardworking families and providing the necessary data points to design policies that promote sustainable economic security and mobility,” Stoney said in a statement. “The pandemic has proven that for many families, $500 can be the difference between staying sheltered or losing your home, buying groceries or going hungry, and that degree of vulnerability is unacceptable.”
The news release announcing the program states that the Federal Reserve found that 40% of American families could not afford a $400 emergency even before the pandemic. Because of the pandemic, even more families are at risk of financial insecurity. Guaranteed income payments are intended to supplement the existing safety net, and the program is part of a larger national movement to foster economic security, modeled after successful pilots in cities such as Stockton, California.
In September it was announced that Stoney had joined Mayors for Guaranteed Income, a coalition of more than 25 mayors “committed to piloting universal income programs to promote economic empowerment.” Funding for Richmond’s program will come from the Robins Foundation and federal CARES Act funding. The pilot cohort will be comprised of clientele of the city Office of Community Wealth Building, a workforce development and economic mobility agency created at the recommendation of the 2011 Richmond Anti-poverty Commission.
“More than just a pilot program, this plan is a first step toward state and national policy that will help qualified, working families in need to close the gap between the social safety net and sustainable employment,” Stoney stated.
Stoney is currently running for reelection in a five-way race for mayor. In a poll conducted by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University and commissioned by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Stoney is leading, with 36% of surveyed voters saying they would support him. Trailing him are Richmond City Councilwoman Kim Gray with 16%, Alexsis Rodgers with 15%, Justin Griffin with 1% and Tracey Mclean. Some 30% of poll respondents were unsure of which candidate to support.
In Richmond, a candidate must win five of the city’s nine voter districts to win. If no candidate wins five of the nine, the top two candidates must face each other in a runoff election.