- Baltimore will give out $1,000 no-strings-attached monthly checks to 200 young parents.
- The program, which starts this summer, will last for two years. It’s currently accepting applications.
- Mayor Brandon Scott said that lower income young parents need the program, especially after the pandemic.
If you’re a young parent in Baltimore, the city wants to give you $1,000 a month for two years.
Baltimore is the latest city to establish a guaranteed-income program, joining a wave of areas handing out no-strings-attached checks.
“We know that folks have been struggling in Baltimore for far too long, but even more so after COVID-19,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott told Insider, adding: “Our lower income residents, particularly our young parents, have faced the worst of the pandemic and the economic fallout, and they really need this now more than ever.”
To qualify, parents need to be between the ages of 18 and 24 when they apply, and live in Baltimore City. They need to have incomes 300% or less of the federal poverty level, which works out to $69,090 for a family of three. The program will give out direct payments to 200 young parents beginning this summer, and is accepting applications through May 9.
Researchers will track outcomes like recipients’ mental health, employment, and their food security.
“When you are a city that has the deep health disparities that we have here in Baltimore — and you know that a lot of that is driven from the stress of not being able to provide for your family, not being to afford healthier options and food — we would be doing this the incorrect way if we weren’t thinking about this from a health and mental health perspective,” Scott said.
The program specifically wants to help increase the time that parents are able to spend with their children.
“We want to help folks meet rent and prevent eviction,” Scott said. “We want them to secure transportation so they can obtain employment, get their children to and from school, and spend more time with their children because they don’t have to spend three or four hours on the bus. We wanna be able to help them pay for childcare.”
Scott said that there’s been a “great” response so far. On the day applications opened, he said, a young woman came into their youth opportunity center, walked up to him, and asked him about the payments. He walked her to the computer lab to go apply.
Recipients will have several choices for how to receive their funds, according to Adam Roseman, the CEO of Steady, the platform that Baltimore will use to distribute the funds. That includes everything from a bank account to PayPal or Venmo.
“The administrative burden for the recipient is that they don’t have to do anything, right,” Roseman said. “Once they set it, it’s set and then the money comes every month and there’s nothing else that they need to do.”
Similar programs have popped up across the country — and have helped recipients’ financial and physical health
Basic-income programs like Baltimore’s have been growing in popularity over the past few years, especially as the pandemic caused financial strain for many low-income households. Scott said he started considering guaranteed income through the Mayors for Guaranteed Income movement, a network of mayors launched by former Stockton, California mayor Michael Tubbs.
Insider reported last year that there are at least 33 active or recently active basic-income programs across the US. Those differ from traditional welfare programs in that they come with no strings attached — participants can spend the money however they want.
Some basic income programs specifically target groups of people that are more likely to face financial hardship, several of them — such as Baltimore’s — assisting low-income parents in particular. California’s basic-income program prioritizes cash for foster youth aging out of the system and pregnant people, and Jackson, Mississippi, currently gives funds to 100 low-income Black mothers living in subsidized housing.
Scott said that he wanted Baltimore’s program to be unique and focused, especially on longer-term impacts, which is why he opted for two years at a higher amount of money than similar programs.
The common thread of these programs: no-strings-attached cash to help people facing financial straits. And basic income programs like Baltimore’s have been shown to improve the physical and mental well-being of their participants, as well as long-term financial health.
By the end of the program, Scott said, “I want Baltimore to be looked at as a innovator, a city that decided to invest in its people — the most in need folks in the most in need neighborhoods and families — and be a part of the growing example of why this should be done at the national level.”