Families can now apply for Providence’s $500-a-month guaranteed income pilot

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Certain lower-income Providence residents can now apply for a chance to receive $500 a month for one year.

On Sunday, the one-week application period opened for the city’s guaranteed income pilot program, which aims to study the impacts of giving a no-strings-attached monthly check to families.

Applications are due on Aug. 21. Only people who live in Providence and earn at or below 200% of the federal poverty level can apply.

That translates to:

  • $25,760 in annual income for a single-person household,
  • $34,840 for two people,
  • $43,920 for a family of three,
  • $53,000 for a family of four,
  • $62,080 for a family of five,
  • $71,160 for a family of six,
  • $80,240 for a family of seven,
  • and $89,320 for a family of eight.

While Mayor Jorge Elorza’s administration created the program, it’s being administered by two local nonprofits, Amos House and Dorcas International Institute, according to the city.

A total of 110 families will be randomly selected to receive the monthly payments, with the first check slated to go out in October or November. The lottery system will give extra weight to families with children as well as Black, Indigenous and people of color.

A control group will also be randomly selected from the applicants, who will not receive the check. But the control group participants will get a small stipend for answering research questions, according to the city.

A series of community meetings are being held this week to discuss the program.

While recipients of the $500 monthly checks can spend the cash however they want, there is a possibility it could affect certain other benefits. Those who are selected from the lottery will be offered a benefits consultation before accepting the money to see if the extra income will change their eligibility for SNAP or housing voucher benefits.

The extra income should not affect Medicaid, Medicare, heating assistance, unemployment benefits or tax credits among other benefits, according to a community presentation on the program.

The roughly $1 million cost of the pilot program is being covered solely by philanthropic donations, including from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the Rhode Island Foundation, United Way of Rhode Island, One Neighborhood Builders and Providence Community Relief Fund.

It’s unclear exactly how the program might be scaled up after the one-year pilot, which will end in the last weeks of Elorza’s final term as mayor.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook

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