City Hall: Federal Funds Could Be Used for Milwaukee Universal Basic Income Program

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Jericho / CC BY (

Jericho / CC BY (

Alderwoman Chantia Lewis continues to beforehand a connection to make a cosmopolitan basal income (UBI) aviator programme to supply currency grants to low-income Milwaukee residents. The latest effort involves allocating $400,000 successful national backing to formally make the program.

Private funds totaling astatine slightest $450,000 would inactive request to beryllium raised to money the currency grants. An archetypal aviator radical of 50 households would person $500 per period for 18 months.

“A tremendous magnitude of enactment and probe has gone into the cosmopolitan basal income programme authorities during the past fewer years, and I americium precise arrogant to beryllium the superior sponsor of the file,” said Lewis successful a connection Wednesday. She archetypal introduced the idea successful October 2019.

The Community & Economic Development Committee precocious Lewis’ $400,000 connection Wednesday for a information of the city’s $394.2 cardinal successful American Rescue Plan Act funds. The afloat assembly volition see the connection connected July 27, apt alongside a $93 cardinal plan from Mayor Tom Barrett.

“After the archetypal payment of the American Rescue Plan Act has begun to fade, radical volition inactive beryllium successful request of further assistance. Unemployment fueled by the pandemic is inactive a reality. This is erstwhile we volition genuinely spot the payment of a cosmopolitan basal income outgo for low-income and working-class families and individuals,” said Lewis.

A information of the UBI allocation would make a caller metropolis job, the UBI programme coordinator. The United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County would service arsenic the fiduciary cause for the program, accepting the backstage donations and releasing funds to residents.

Lewis’ inspiration for the programme comes from Stockton, California’s SEED program, the archetypal city-level cosmopolitan basal income program. It provides 125 families a $500 monthly grant.

“We person truly learned a batch based connected the Stockton, California experience,” said Department of Administration manager Sharon Robinson successful September 2020 erstwhile she presented a council-requested programme proposal. She said imaginable issues stay with however to prime the participants and the imaginable interaction connected eligibility for different assistance programs for those receiving funds. Lewis said she has contacted Governor Tony Evers astir a waiver for participants.

Robinson, successful September, said the bigger Stockton programme outgo $3 cardinal and Milwaukee’s could outgo $1 cardinal erstwhile medication and assistance costs are considered. “It inactive took them 2 years and a conjugation of galore radical to get the programme disconnected the ground,” she said. “I americium hoping Alderwoman Lewis is going to beryllium capable to leverage her power connected a nationalist level due to the fact that if we tin $3 cardinal similar Stockton had we won’t adjacent request to propulsion successful section philanthropy.” The ARPA funds present connection the metropolis a pathway to velocity up implementation, provided the backstage funds tin beryllium raised.

Under Lewis’ framework, approved by her colleagues successful January 2020, participating families successful the 18-month programme would request to beryllium conscionable definite income restrictions, unrecorded successful the metropolis and consent to having the metropolis show however they walk the money. Financial coaching would besides beryllium provided. Funds would beryllium provided connected a debit card.

The alderwoman, successful aboriginal 2020, said the aboriginal results from the Stockton connection amusement radical don’t walk the wealth frivolously. An autarkic audit of Stockton’s progam shows that, broadly categorized, participants person utilized their funds connected nutrient (36%), sales/merchandise (22%), utilities (10%), car attraction (10%), services (7%), aesculapian (3%), proscription (4%), security (3%), aforesaid care/recreation (3%), acquisition (one percent) and donations (one percent). The Stockton programme has recovered that little than 1 percent has been spent connected intoxicant oregon baccy each month.

But that tracking represents lone 60 percent of the funds awarded successful Stockton. The audit of the Stockton programme has recovered that astir 40% of the funds loaded onto the debit cards person been transferred off. Interviews with participants uncover that participants didn’t spot the programme and wanted cash, preferred currency arsenic their superior spending method oregon transferred the wealth to different card.

According to a Common Council report, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Mountain View, CA are pursuing utilizing ARPA funds for UBI programs. A fig of different cities person approved UBI programs, including Pittsburgh, Newark and Denver.

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