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$ 500 per month for a year?  Columbia Launches Guaranteed Income Pilot Program

Could $ 500 more a month change your life?

About a hundred Colombian fathers are about to find out.

Columbia’s city council on Tuesday passed a resolution supporting the launch of a pilot guaranteed income program in the capital. Through this initiative, 100 fathers in Colombia will receive $ 500 per month for a period of one year. The program, led by third-term Mayor Steve Benjamin, is called Columbia Life Improvement Monetary Benefit (CLIMB) and is privately funded with grants from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

Benjamin is part of an organization called Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a group that was started to champion the principle of a basic income in the form of recurring cash payments each month. Mayors for Guaranteed Income received $ 18 million in grants from Dorsey in 2020.

A number of cities across the country have launched or will launch guaranteed income pilot programs as part of the Mayors’ Initiative, including, among others, Richmond, Virginia; Saint-Paul and Pittsburgh. Benjamin and several community partners have been working to organize the Columbia effort since December.

The mayor said the checks would begin to be issued in August.

The city is working with the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition to select the 100 fathers who will be part of the pilot program. The Fatherhood Coalition is part of the SC Center for Fathers and Families and offers a number of community programs and support services for fathers. Participants in the Guaranteed Income Pilot must be enrolled in programs with the coalition.

“It would be the only (universal income pilot program) of its kind in the country with a singular focus on men,” Benjamin told The State. “Although you have a large and growing group of mayors among mayors for guaranteed income, ours is the only one focused on men. “

There are no conditions or instructions on how participants should spend the money. Benjamin said the funds will come to attendees on a debit card that is topped up every month.

“I think it’s going to show us a number of things that we know to be true,” Benjamin said. “Even the people who are struggling to make ends meet, if you give them an income floor, they’ll do whatever it takes. The added benefit of our initiative is that we believe it will help strengthen the bonds between fathers and their children.

The city-level Guaranteed Income pilot program began in Stockton, Calif., Under former mayor Michael Tubbs, who later founded the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income group.

The idea of ​​a monthly income program was also, in part, popularized nationally in 2019 and 2020 thanks to the presidential campaign of Democrat Andrew Yang, who proposed to give all Americans a “dividend of freedom “of $ 1,000 per month.

As to why the city has considered a resolution in favor of the program, Benjamin nodded at the fact that his time as mayor is getting shorter and shorter. He is not running for re-election this year and only six months remain in his third and final term.

“It was important to show the city’s long-term commitment,” Benjamin said of Tuesday’s resolution. “Especially since I am launching the effort and will be leaving my post this year. I am happy that the city supported it and voted unanimously for it.

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