Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced on Wednesday, Dec. 9 that the City has secured $500,000 in funding from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) to support the most vulnerable residents who are struggling to pay their bills.
Representing some 30 mayors from across the country, MGI works to draw attention to systemic and historical income, wage and wealth gaps, while advocating for a guaranteed income at the local, state, and federal levels.
“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,” Mayor Cantrell says. “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.”
Specific details on how the $500,000 would be used were not provided in the announcement of the grant. The release referred to a pilot program currently underway Currently in New Orleans, Rooted School and 4.0 Schools to provide a weekly cash stipend to 10 students in their founding class, starting with $50 a week.
The funds are part of a $15 million grant from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey through his #startsmall initiative. This builds on Dorsey’s initial donation of $3 million in July 2020. These new funds are already being allocated to launch or expand guaranteed income pilots in U.S. cities including New Orleans as well as Columbia, SC; Los Angeles, CA; Madison, WI; Pittsburgh, PA; Providence, RI; Richmond, VA; Tacoma, WA; and St. Paul, MN. More participating cities will be announced later.
The grants come as Americans are increasingly embracing the concept of a Universal Basic Income, due in part to a growing response to systemic racism:
- 76 percent of Americans support direct cash payments through the pandemic
- 55 percent of Americans support direct cash payments indefinitely
With Louisiana spending more than $175 per resident each year on prisons and incarceration, Mayor Cantrell suggests that the idea of providing vulnerable residents with cash payments is a valid use of funding to help support and strengthen families and communities.