Registration for residents of Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood took place at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, whose former pastors included civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., who was also a guaranteed income advocate.
Participants must earn an annual income no more than twice the federal poverty level, which varies by household size, but for a family of four, that’s $55,500.
Half will receive 24 monthly installments of $850, and the other half will receive a lump sum of $4,300, followed by 23 months of payments of $700, as organizers experiment to find the most efficient way to pay out the silver.
Taneisha plans to pay off her debts and eventually find a better apartment for herself and her two children.
Sheila also hopes to move into a bigger apartment and aims to start a hair products business, which could provide her with more stable work and income.
“I have four daughters, so of course I have to be an example for them,” she said.
GiveDirectly is working with Appalachian State University to study the impact of the program, with the goal of providing data to guide future anti-poverty initiatives.
One of the goals is to assess the impact of guaranteed income on “racialized economic inequality”, said Miriam Laker-Oketta, research director at GiveDirectly, who said she would follow women to learn about their experiences. .
“We want to hear the effects on their health, on their income, on their assets, on their family relationships, on their well-being and on their resilience,” she said.
Meanwhile, organizers say they can already see the impact on the participating women.
“They leave happy – either crying, or smiling, or jumping,” said registration manager Shonda Godfrey, describing the reaction of attendees.
“You can have the relaxation of ‘I can feed my kids this month’.”