How Richmond is helping families with a $500 guaranteed income

Posted at 6:57 AM, Apr 18, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. — About 40% of Americans reported that they do not have $500 for an unexpected emergency before the pandemic.

In response, Petula Burks with the City of Richmond said they are actively working to address that problem through a program called guaranteed income.

“If you don't have that $500, now you're making a decision do I pay rent? Do I buy groceries? Do I have somewhere for my kids to go after school? Those are decisions that our families should not have to make in 2023,” said Burks, the director of Richmond’s office of strategic communications and civic engagement.

Families who qualify for guaranteed income make about $12.71 an hour and no longer qualify for government assistance. Participants also have kids to support and don’t make a living wage.

Richmond families can learn more at a Tuesday conversation with Mayor Levar Stoney and former Stockton, California Mayor Michael Tubbs. He was the first to offer a guaranteed income to his residents.

“When you think about helping that household, that's other people in that family who are also being helped,” Burks explained. “Whether it's the grandmother that's helping take care of the children, or the kids now who has a mom who can come and see them at baseball or football games.”

M. Rice is a panelist and a participant in the Richmond Resilience Initiative.

“Participating in the RRI Pilot has allowed me to manage my financial affairs while completing my collegiate basket all career, articulating through graduate school and taking care of my daughter,” Rice stated.

The city is about to begin their third round of the $500 program thanks to funds from the Robins Foundation and Mayor’s for Guaranteed Income.

A Pew Research Center poll from 2020 found that about 54% of American adults are against the idea of the federal government providing a guaranteed income of approximately $1,000 a month to all adults, regardless of their work status.

More Democrats support the concept than Republicans, the poll said.

Stoney's conversation is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Library of Virginia on East Broad Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and you're encouraged to register before the event.

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