Baltimore will pay $1,000 monthly for two years to 200 young parents as part of a guaranteed income pilot program, Mayor Brandon Scott announced on Wednesday.
The city’s guaranteed income pilot program, called the Baltimore Young Families Success Fund, “will help combat the economic fallout from COVID-19 and assist young parents hit the hardest by the pandemic,” Scott said in a statement.
“This is, fundamentally, about putting our families in a position to succeed,” he added.
The pilot program will be available to 200 young parents and guardians who are 18-24 years old at the time of their application and who are Baltimore City residents.
Applicants must have an income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level for their household size, and the parent or guardian must have full or partial care-taking responsibilities.
Parents can apply for the guaranteed income program from 6 a.m. May 2 through 11:59 p.m. May 9.
Recipients of the guaranteed income will be selected via a random lottery.
The guaranteed income will be an “unconditional” payment, meaning there are no requirements of how the money can be used.
“Guaranteed Income provides a steady, predictable income to recipients to decide how to spend direct payments based on their personal needs,” city officials said in a release.
Danielle Torain, director of the Open Society Institute of Baltimore, said Baltimore’s Black and Latino communities have long experienced institutional disinvestment, and those challenges deepened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Guaranteed Income is a powerful people-centered way to address both the historic disinvestment and the more recent impact of COVID,” Torain said in a statement. “We hope that by collaborating with communities and creating this pilot, we can create a lasting model to help pull people out of poverty and invite more public and private investment in these communities.”
Of the 200 parents who will receive monthly $1,000 payments, 70 individuals will be part of a “storytelling cohort” to share their experiences with the guaranteed income and 130 individuals will be chosen for a research study.
There will also be 156 individuals who will not receive the monthly $1,000 payments, who will serve as a control group for the research study. Those individuals will be eligible for incentives for participation in the research study.
The remaining applicants will not participate in any portion of the program.
The pilot program will be funded by a $4.8 million allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds, with the financial technology company Steady distributing those funds to participants.
“Baltimore joins other cities nationwide to show how providing a Guaranteed Income provides resilience, promotes self-determination, and preserves dignity for very low-income families,” said Robin McKinney, co-founder and CEO of the CASH Campaign of Maryland, said in a statement. “Results from other cities have shown that the recipients are healthier, happier, and better able to find full-time employment because their money worries have been largely eliminated.”
“Hopefully, these Guaranteed Income pilots will eventually result in a national program,” McKinney added. “The CASH in our name stands for ‘creating assets, savings, and hope,’ which is what guaranteed income will provide for 200 young Baltimore families.”
Abt Associates, Johns Hopkins University, and the Center for Guaranteed Income Research will work with the city to evaluate the pilot program. The evaluation will include analysis of the guaranteed income recipients’ physical and mental health, economic stability, spending habits, employment, education, food security, parents’ time with children, and more.
The costs of administering the program will be funded through the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success (MOCFS), CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Abell Foundation, the France-Merrick Foundation, and The Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund.
In February 2021, Scott joined Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, seeking to launch a guaranteed income pilot program in Baltimore. A steering committee later gathered community input from Baltimoreans about guaranteed income.
“The Guaranteed Income steering committee, comprised of a diversified cross-section of Baltimore City stakeholders, accepted Mayor Scott’s charge to design a Guaranteed Income pilot program for his consideration,” said Joe Jones Jr., founder, president and CEO of Center for Urban Families, said in a statement. “We are excited that 200 young parents will be selected to participate in a rigorously evaluated program to learn how these unconditional resources impact their family strengthening and economic aspirations.”