DC deposits $900 into new mothers’ bank accounts to combat poverty

It won’t come as a surprise to parents that it takes an estimated $30,000 to raise a newborn, according to Lending Tree. D.C.’s mayor is announcing a $1.5 million lifeline for young mothers living in poverty to help them navigate that financial burden.

The Strong Families, Strong Future pilot will direct transfer $900 a month into the bank accounts of 132 young mothers in the District.

“We want to understand the effect of cash assistance that is unrestricted cash assistance so that families can take care of their needs,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Eligibility is limited to expectant and new mothers who live in Wards 5, 7 and 8 and make 250% below the federal poverty level. D.C. nonprofit Martha’s Table will run the program and offer support services beyond the cash assistance.

Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie says families can use it how they see fit.

“Going into … the budget last year, my staff and I were determined to find programs that address the impacts of long-term systemic inequities and make truly transformational investments in underserved communities across our city,” McDuffie said. “And I think we’re able to make a down payment on many initiatives that will be needed to combat poverty and racial disparities in the nation’s capital.”

Similar direct cash transfer programs are in progress or under consideration in several cities across the country. For example, findings from recent pilots, such as the Magnolia Mother’s Trust in Jackson, Mississippi, have demonstrated the positive effects and economic improvements among participants, according to the administration.

“Guaranteed income can help struggling households meet their daily needs, as we’ve heard, avoid or pay down debt, improve long-term earnings and work opportunities for lower-income workers,” McDuffie said.

Those interested in applying can find information on the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s website.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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