Update on Denver Basic Income Pilot

Update on Denver Basic Income Pilot

In Denver Colorado, a cash distribution program targeting those who experience homelessness is closing in on fully launching. The Denver Basic Income Project (DBIP) seeks to give a basic income to individuals to demonstrate that recipients of direct cash payments are more likely to obtain stable housing, gain more opportunity for stable employment, and empower people to assert their dignity and agency while improving their lives and improve the lives of those around them. The project aims to implement and study methods of building a healthier society, grounded in the values of social justice, anti-poverty, anti-oppression, and self-determination.

Some cash payments have already begun under a soft launch to understand where improvements can be made in the structure and implementation of the study. This approach aims to ensure that the program is as effective as it possibly can be over the 12-month span the full launch will cover. The Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver will be the organization conducting the study of results, and multiple organizations in Denver will be assisting in the implementation of the program.

Mark Donovan, the project founder, says “Direct cash payments move toward eliminating wealth inequality and begin to build a healthier community here in Denver and hopefully we’ll create a model for other cities to follow.” DBIP is itself modeled on two successful projects based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Stockton, California. Both the New Leaf Project in Vancouver, and the SEED project in Stockton showed positive effects on the lives of participants. In comparison to what the United States has currently implemented to help these people, “Our society can do better” says Donovan.

The Mayor of Denver, Michael B. Hancock, is in partnership with DBIP through Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a network of Mayors throughout the U.S. dedicated to advocating for a guaranteed income. “The Denver Basic Income Project is an opportunity to explore how the philanthropic community and the private sector can augment public support for those living in poverty, particularly our unhoused neighbors, and extend that hand up to stability” said Hancock. Mayor Hancock is concerned about a variety of issues such as homelessness, disparity in opportunity, and a withering middle class because of a lack of equity in economic systems.

There has been a large amount of fundraising for the project that continues. DBIP is still accepting donations towards its goal of securing 7.8 million dollars. DBIP is also currently applying the lessons learned from its initial soft launch and strengthening itself and its relationship with the community, especially leaders and participants from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Everything points to DBIP being an extremely promising endeavor worth paying attention to.

If you would like to read more about the Denver Basic Income Project you can read a recent guest column written by Mark Donovan for The Pulse Institute here.

Aaron Lamb, April 11, 2022

More information on Basic Income Pilot for Care Leavers in Wales

More information on Basic Income Pilot for Care Leavers in Wales

On Wednesday, February 16th, 2022, Jane Hutt, the Minister for Social Justice, announced that a pilot of Basic Income will be launched in Wales in the 2022/2023 financial year. This program is focused on those leaving care at age 18. The goal of this pilot is to increase the support that is available to young adults and examine the impact that these financial resources have on young people leaving care. All young people leaving care who turn 18 years old within the initial 12-month period of the program will be considered eligible for the basic income pilot program across all local authority areas in Wales.

Those leaving care will receive a stipend of £1,600 a month for up to two years, with the first payment arriving one month after their 18th birthday. This amount, totaling £19,200 before tax annually, will be considered a source of income and taxed accordingly. These funds are given unconditionally, and participants will still be eligible for this funding even after they become employed. Officials say this amount is equivalent to the real living wage in the United Kingdom, and will help to provide a safety net for those leaving care who may not have support from their families.

The pilot will begin distributing funds in the summer of 2022, and it is estimated that over 500 young people will be eligible. This would cost up to £20 million over three years. Other forms of support will be offered to participants in addition to the monthly cash award of £1,600, such as financial wellbeing training and signposting to support services. This program will help experts determine the benefits of basic income, which include improving financial wellbeing and addressing poverty. This pilot will allow ministers to examine the effects of basic income programs and help those leaving care transition into independent adults by delivering financial stability.

A Technical Advisory Board has been assembled to monitor the progress and evaluate outcomes from this basic income program, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot. In addition, an external reference group will be involved with this pilot to support the participants and provide representation on their behalf.

More information will be provided in the coming months.

Maria Matarazzo, April 11. 2022

Guaranteed Income Pilot for Released Felons

Guaranteed Income Pilot for Released Felons

In January 2022, 57 people began receiving unconditional direct deposit payments and on March 31st, 58 more people began receiving payments. The guaranteed income project in Gainesville, Florida, Just Income GNV, provides these payments to those who have been recently released from either a state or federal prison or a Florida county jail with a felony. Through a financial disbursement partner, Steady, participants received a one-time $1000 deposit followed by $600 monthly payments. Payments are received directly to a bank account or a prepaid card. The program is privately funded by Mayors for Guaranteed Income, Spring Point Partners, and donations. During onboarding, recipients were offered a benefits counselor through Southern Legal Counsel so that they could understand the potential impacts participation may have on other benefits.

Just Income GVN will be evaluated based on the level of effect a guaranteed income has on justice-impacted people. Using a mix-methods randomized controlled trial, Group A (Recipients) will receive the money and Group B (Allies) will not. The Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR) at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Lucius Couloute, professor of sociology and criminal justice at Suffolk University, paired with the pilot program to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative data. They will specifically review the personal narratives, monitor spending, housing stability, and the relationship between income and recidivism.

The Program Director, Kevin Scott, explains that the largest barriers to launching the program were logistics and skepticism. The pilot program overcame logistical challenges throughout the process and learned a lot between the two separate cohorts. Skepticism, especially amongst formerly incarcerated people, presented as the belief that the program’s offerings were too good to be true. The target population of this particular pilot program is often marginalized and pushed beyond the outskirts of society. However, this project was designed by people formerly incarcerated and continues to be administered by those formerly incarcerated. This shared experience helped to build rapport and establish trust, overcoming much of the skepticism. Still, some of those who qualified did not pursue the benefits for themselves.

The project was undertaken by a nonprofit in Gainesville called Community Spring. The organization hires community members who have been impacted by poverty in order to better address the issue from an insider’s perspective. A need for resources around the release from incarceration were identified and a re-entry support group formed. Former prisoners began assisting those being released from prison, whether providing resources or emotional support.

When the Gainesville mayor joined Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, he went to Community Spring as a local nonprofit, offering the opportunity to implement a guaranteed income pilot. After careful consideration the group agreed to participate so long as the program could focus on people who have been formerly incarcerated.

An immediate difference could be seen in recipients’ lives within the first few months of payments. Recipients were and are paying off legal fees and investing in education and transportation. One recipient was able to buy a scooter at a thrift store and another was able to make payments to save his family home. The impact thus far has been extremely positive. The program’s organizers are excited to be a part of the research on guaranteed income and believe the data is compelling and could potentially lead to broader application.

Meagan Merritt, April 11th, 2022

New poem on Basic Income

New poem on Basic Income

Harula Ladd has researched and written a poem titled “Turn on the Tap” about UBI in the UK for a project that aims to combine facts and science with creativity and the arts to share information and inspiration about innovative ideas that could bring hope to the challenges the world is facing.

The Evolution of Ukraine’s Income Support Program

The Evolution of Ukraine’s Income Support Program

This article is based on a post by Scott Santens, and quotes extensively from it, New information was also obtained today from an article by Violetta Orlova forwarded by a Russian BIEN activist born in Ukraine, Alexander Soloviev.
On December 19, 2021, Ukraine launched “ePidtrymka” which translates to eSupport. It was launched on Diia which is a smartphone app and web portal that itself was launched in February 2020 to function as a means of storing and sharing digital versions of documents, and also making government services available digitally instead of requiring in-person interactions only. Diia made it possible for Ukrainians to prove their vaccination status as one of the over 50 services that is now available on Diia.

Because ePidtrymka is a service that rewarded people for getting vaccinated, there are people claiming that the “Great Reset” has just begun in Ukraine with the trifecta of universal basic income, vaccination, and social credits. What Ukraine is doing does not meet BIEN’s definition of a basic income, but it nevertheless may represent an important step towards a UBI.

What Ukraine did initially was to provide people with 1,000 UAH which is about $34. However, vaccinated Ukrainians couldn’t spend it on anything, because it was also meant as a stimulus program designed to help businesses most hurt by the pandemic. Because places like restaurants and gyms suffered the most financial loss during the height of the pandemic, ePidtrymka cards could only be used at those kinds of businesses. Other possible purchases were books, concerts, theaters, museums, and transport. The point was to help these businesses out of the hole Covid put them in while also encouraging vaccination, which actually makes a lot of sense considering those same businesses were hurt the most because they’re the places where Covid gets transmitted the most. It would be bad for these businesses to suddenly get a lot of unvaccinated customers and lead to another Covid spike.

Additionally, cashback debit and credit cards function in a very similar way, where different kinds of purchases result in different reward levels. It’s also somewhat similar to EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards (aka food stamps) that can be used to only buy certain foods, but not all foods. There was also a time limit added to the vaccination reward, where it needed to be spent within four months or forfeited. This again was meant as a stimulus, encouraging people to spend instead of save in order to more quickly grow the Covid-impacted economy.

Further, Ukraine was planning on making the ePidtrymka program available offline in 2022 instead of only available online and via the app. It was never intended to only be available online.
On January 24, 2022, there was the first expansion to the ePidtrymka program, which enabled those over 60 to spend their rewards on medicines too. This was soon followed on February 7 by extending the rewards to everyone over age 14 and also expanding available spending to “educational services, children’s extracurricular activities, staying in a summer or sports children’s camp, sporting goods, stationery, and school supplies.” This was then followed on February 14 by expanding purchases to housing and communal services for those over age 60.

The next expansion of the program was scheduled to happen on March 14 with the introduction of an additional 500 UAH (about $17) to reward people for getting a booster shot, and also the ability of those with disabilities to spend their rewards on medicine, housing, and communal services too, but then Putin sent Russian troops over the border to take over Ukraine. Thus the next expansion of the program ended up being the ability of everyone in Ukraine with ePidtrymka rewards they hadn’t yet spent to donate their funds to the Ukrainian military.

This was soon followed by the lifting of all restrictions on spending. Since March 2, as a result of the war, all Ukranians with ePidtrymka rewards have been able to spend their rewards exactly as cash, on anything they feel is best or they most need. And on March 8, an additional 6,500 UAH ($220) was added through the ePidtrymka system to every employee in the most war-impacted areas for whom USC is paid (their version of Social Security), including every entrepreneur, without any vaccination requirements applied, and without any limitations on spending – including time restrictions.

An Advisor to the President of Ukraine on economic issues, Oleg Ustenko, said on April 2 that the Ukrainian government is considering the possibility of introducing an unconditional basic income for the population.
 
That is, the regular payment by the state of a certain amount from the budget to each citizen just like that – without any conditions and the need to work for the money received.  Ustenko did not specify what amount he was talking about.
 
 “The possibility of introducing the so-called unconditional income for the population for a long time is being considered – it was discussed before the war, but did not find support, now it should and will work…. This issue is not just being considered, we already have an understanding of where to move in this direction,” Ustenko said.

Summarizing, Ukraine innovated a way of more productively administering government programs. One of those programs was a small one-time reward for getting vaccinated against Covid that was meant to support those sectors of Ukraine’s economy that suffered the most from quarantine restrictions. That program then served as a means of helping the people of Ukraine in a time of national emergency in a way that wouldn’t have otherwise been as quickly implementable. Thanks to the plumbing already existing, Ukraine was able to use those pipes to instantly get money to the people of Ukraine that they could spend on anything they need, vaccinated or not, during an invasion by Russia.  
Pope Francis and Basic Income in the context of Catholic social teaching and theology

Pope Francis and Basic Income in the context of Catholic social teaching and theology

Dr. Markus Schlagnitweit, Director of the Catholic Social Academy Austria, has written an article about Catholic teaching and theory and basic income. Several statements of Pope Francis about basic income were reviewed.

In his paper, Schlagnitweit rejects the claim that the basic income violates principles of Catholic social teaching. To the contrary, basic Income is not only compatible with the principles of subsidiarity, solidarity and personal dignity, but it also strengthens them. Furthermore, implementation of an unconditional and universal basic income can help reduce social injustice and other distortions resulting from employment at market-determined wages and a narrow definition of work.

Uncondtional und universal basic Income, which ensures livelihood and social participation, is a fundamental right, according to Markus Schlagnitweit.

Basic Income Network Germany financed the translation and published the paper in several languages:

English

German

Spanish

French

Italian

Portuguese

Polish