Montgomery County Executive backs guaranteed income pilot program

Montgomery County, Maryland, Executive Marc Elrich supports an effort to put $1.9 million in county money toward a two-year program that will give recipients $800 a month.

On Tuesday, Elrich appeared at a news conference on the steps of the Montgomery County Council building with Council members Will Jawando, Gabe Albornoz and Evan Glass. Jawando and Albornoz are sponsors of the plan. Council President Tom Hucker and council members Glass, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer are co-sponsors of the plan.

“This is something I really deeply believe in” said Elrich, who added that dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic had tied the hands of government in trying to come up with innovative ways to address fiscal pressures on the county’s neediest residents. “It’s time to get to a better place.”

The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program would allow 300 individually selected households to use the $800 a month with no strings attached.

Jawando said the need for such relief is clear. “Nearly half of our renters today are paying more than 30% — sometimes much more — of their monthly income on housing,” he said.

Jawando did not offer details on precisely what the criteria would be for deciding who would receive the benefits, but he did say that 100 of the 300 recipients would be people who have experienced homelessness.

Albornoz said Americans of all income levels have benefited from some form of assistance from government — “Whether it’s a child tax credit, whether it’s a direct stimulus payment.”

“That is what kept families in place. That is what kept our economy booming. That kept us from falling over a cliff. So this investment at the local level expands on what we know works,” Albornoz said, adding that as a father of four, the child tax credit was helpful to his own family.

Along with the $1.9 million in a special appropriation from Montgomery County, the pilot would include a $1 million commitment from the Meyer Foundation.

Julian Haynes, director of the foundation’s office on Maryland Partnerships and Strategy, said, “Reducing inequity, income volatility and poverty will undoubtedly make Montgomery County stronger.”

A public hearing on the issue is planned for Nov. 2 at 1:30 p.m.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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