Minneapolis eyes guaranteed basic income to aid needy families

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A customer shops at United Noodles in Minneapolis in September 2013. Minneapolis city officials are looking for 200 families in the city to receive an extra $500 per month for two year as part of the city's new guaranteed basic income pilot program.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News 2013

Some Minneapolis families can soon apply for an additional $500 per month as part of the city's new guaranteed basic income pilot program.

City officials are looking for 200 families living in nine ZIP codes across the city, mostly in north Minneapolis. If accepted, the families will get an extra $500 per month for two years to go toward basic needs like housing and groceries.

The city plans to spend more than $2 million in federal pandemic relief aid on the pilot program.

"This is money they will be able to count on,” Mayor Jacob Frey said, “this is money they will be able to expect on a monthly basis so they can then plan and make the best possible financial decisions for them and their families."

Council member Andrea Jenkins, who represents one of the areas included in the pilot program, said the money will likely help single mothers with children.

"That's who is struggling out here, and I think this program is going to really address some of those concerns with those families,” Jenkins said.

The city plans to use community partners to find qualifying families by the end of the year with payments to begin in early 2022. City officials will track how the families are making out along the way in hopes of expanding the program at the end of the two years.

Last year, the St. Paul City Council agreed to Mayor Melvin Carter’s proposal to guarantee $500 in monthly income to 150 low-income families affected by COVID-19. Carter has said philanthropy would fund most of the $1.5 million, 18-month project.

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