Durham City Council members have unanimously approved a pilot program that will soon provide more than 100 formerly incarcerated residents with a guaranteed income of $500 a month.
Durham is one of 22 cities across the United States that will participate in the program, which is modeled after one in Stockton, California. The city was awarded a $500,000 grant from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI)—a national advocate of universal basic income—to launch the one-year pilot initiative, which is expected to begin early next year.
As previously reported by the INDY, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel kicked off a city council work session last January by announcing the city was among the cities being considered for the MGI grant.
Having secured the funds, council members during an October 18 meeting authorized the city manager to execute an agreement with two entities, StepUp Durham and Steady, to administer the funds and disburse monthly payments to the city’s guaranteed income participants.
StepUp Durham is a local nonprofit that offers free job training and coaching to employment-seekers. Steady—a mobile app company that allows its users access to part-time, hourly, and on-demand employment opportunities—will serve as the platform to make monthly cash payments to the pilot participants, according to officials.
The city’s guaranteed basic income pilot—also known as “Excel”—will provide $500-a-month payments to 115 randomly selected, formerly incarcerated individuals, according to city officials.
Schewel on Tuesday told the INDY that the one-year pilot program will be funded through the grant as well as $190,000 in private funds along with $110,000 from city coffers.
“We just completed that, which is very exciting,” Schewel said, referring to the city securing $190,000 in private funding.
The mayor said the next step is StepUp Durham’s “completion of intake of interested residents who have returned from incarceration in the last several years.
“That is going very well,” he said. “So I expect funds to start being distributed by early next year.”
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.