Atlanta is Now Accepting Applications for a $500 Per Month Guaranteed Income Plan

L. Cane
Some Atlanta Residents May Get $500 per MonthAnnie Spratt, Unsplash

Beginning in early 2022, eligible individuals may sign up for the waiting list of Atlanta's new pilot program that will offer residents a guaranteed income of $500 per month for one year, per the Urban League of Greater Atlanta's website.

Who Qualifies:

Applicants must be residents of Atlanta whose income is up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Line.

This may be an individual, for example, who earns up to $25,760. A family of four with an annual income of $53,000 may also qualify.

How Many People Will Get the Income:

275 Atlanta residents will receive the guaranteed income of $500 per month for 12 months.

And 132 residents will be selected for focus groups. These groups will participate in surveys, but they will not receive the income.

How Will the Recipients Be Chosen?:

Both the recipients of the guaranteed income and the focus group recipients will be chosen via random lottery.

Why is This Being Done?:

Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined the Mayors for Guaranteed Income (MGI) initiative in 2020. This program supports cities' efforts to launch their own guaranteed income pilot programs.

Atlanta's program is focused on individuals and families that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, but other programs are aimed at combating poverty for various reasons.

There are programs of this kind in Anchorage, Los Angeles, and Shreveport, to name just a few.

In Atlanta, former Mayor Bottoms is focused on economic security for overlooked populations, saying,

"This is an important first step to achieving economic security, especially for those who have been overlooked and left behind because of economic inequality. This initiative will allow us to act against poverty and equip vulnerable residents with a means of meeting their basic needs and achieving greater success."

Won't This Make People Not Want to Work?:

It's no secret that many industries are struggling to attract and keep employees right now.

So there is a concern by some that giving people free income is going to mean that these same people won't want to work.

The website addresses this issue head-on, saying that the guaranteed income is very low, and is actually shown that recipients of the income worked more, not less:

"That’s a harmful stereotype around this concept and other social safety net programs; but the facts show that simply isn’t the case. Research on several cash transfer initiatives over decades has shown that there is no negative effect on the labor market, and in fact recent research shows recipients found more work. Additional data out of Alaska, where they’ve had a guaranteed income in the form of the PFD for nearly 40 years, shows that cash did not stop people from working. And most proposals for a guaranteed income are rather modest – would you quit your job for $6,000 a year?"

What Do Recipients Do With the Money?:

The League says that data indicates that most guaranteed income recipients use the money for their basic needs such as housing, food, medical care, and unexpected emergencies.

Eligible applicants can sign up for the application waiting list on the Urban League of Greater Atlanta's website.

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