One Southern state wants to give away free money in order to increase the quality of life for some of its residents. The state of Georgia will soon implement a new guaranteed income program in order to decrease the wage gap for some women.
Georgia named their flagship program “In Her Hands.” Officials describe it as the largest guaranteed income program in the South. The Georgia Resiliency and Opportunity Fund partnered with GiveDirectly to administer the program, which they say will mostly cater to black women.
The program begins with an initial $13 million investment and will begin in early 2022. It specifically targets black women living in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward. The Fourth Ward is where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up.
According to the program’s website, they “believe in the message of Dr. King.” The site also cites one of Dr. King’s famous quotations:
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”
Which Georgia Residents Are Eligible?
The Georgia Resiliency and Opportunity Fund will give 650 recipients an average of $850 per month for two years. The women could receive a lump sum payment upfront, which would come out to nearly $20,000 in a single payment. Georgia does not specify any spending restrictions.
Studies found that 38 percent of women living in the Fourth Ward currently live in poverty. The program says it has targeted two other neighborhoods in Georgia, as well, for future participation.
Women cannot apply to the program; rather, they are chosen for the basic income distribution.
What Is Guaranteed Income, and Why It Matters
Guaranteed income is a form of assistance that targets specific demographics or income levels. While similar to universal basic income, guaranteed income attempts to raise households lagging behind up to the level of its peers, rather than elevate all households.
In other words, Georgia wants to eliminate (or shorten) gaps between its residents. A universal basic income might improve everyone’s current state, but it would not address the gaps.
The Georgia fund acknowledges that the extra money may not cover a family’s basic needs. But they said that they hope the monthly payments bring some stability, which fosters good saving and spending habits.
The city of Atlanta is also handing out free money to those who qualify in their own municipal program. As part of the IMPACT Program (Income Mobility Program for Atlanta Community Transformation), the city will hand out $500 per month to qualifying applicants. The pilot phase will last for one year.
To qualify for IMPACT assistance, you must live in Atlanta and live below 200 percent of the poverty line. Only 300 applicants will be chosen for the initial payments.