Study: Guaranteed-income programs more effective, efficient for DC residents

Helbert Morrison is one D.C. resident who wants to see more guaranteed-income programs.

Last month, he received a $5,500 one-time, unconditional payment from a private, pilot program. And it came in the nick of time for the single father.

“I was having car problems at the time,” Morrison said. “As far as food, transportation and my living situation, it was big relief.”

The privately funded THRIVE program transferred the money to Morrison and nearly 600 other D.C. residents, with the goal of helping stabilize households during the pandemic.

A new study released this month discovered participants saw greater food security and better mental health outcomes. And many parents noticed they were less worried about their children’s well-being.

Morrison, whose son has cerebral palsy, said the money came with no strings attached.

“When you’re dealing with financial burdens, you’re trying to figure it out,” Morrison said. “I’m able to do more for him now, so that makes me extremely proud.”

Earlier this year, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced plans for a guaranteed-income program that gives $900 a month to low-income mothers.

Researchers probing the THRIVE program discovered that cash-transfer programs are more effective and efficient than other safety net programs that divvy out food and housing vouchers.

And THRIVE can be used as a map for future guaranteed-income programs in the District and around the country, said Mary Bogle, a lead researcher for the Urban Institute, which conducted the study.

“Cash has this equitable effect. It allows people to make their own choices about how they’re going to stabilize their households,” Bogle said. “This is contrary to how our safety networks work.”

Morrison said more parents like him would like to see this kind of help for families.

“With the help of THRIVE, I was able to sort of pay ahead and have time to map out what’s best for me to do,” Morrison said. “It just took a big weight off my shoulders.”

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up