Prince George’s Co. approves universal basic income pilot program

People living in poverty in Prince George’s County, Maryland, are now eligible to get no strings attached payments from a new pilot program approved by the county council unanimously on Tuesday.

Sponsors of the measure argue that many residents in Prince George’s County are “trapped in this generational cycle with little to no prospects for economic mobility,” according to the council’s resolution.

The Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot Program would be modeled after the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) program based in Stockton, California.

In that program, 125 qualified people are randomly picked to receive unconditional payments of $500 a month over two years.

A report from the SEED program showed participants were able to pay off debts and cover unexpected expenses and saw a 12% increase from part-time to full-time employment.

The exact details of Prince George’s County program will be hashed out by a workgroup. But during a committee meeting last month, Council member Krystal Oriadha said that payments would range between $500 and $800 per month for 24 months and around 200 people would be chosen.

The county government will fund half of the $4 million project. The other half will be funded by the Greater Washington Community Foundation, which chipped in $1 million, and other private institutions.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in a public letter said that she agrees with the concept of the Universal Basic Income Program but is concerned about the funding with this year’s budget.

“This year’s budget is tight due to a number of challenges we have to navigate. It would be difficult for us to fund the remaining $2 million for this pilot program from our General Fund. That’s why we are interested in working with community partners and other private entities to secure an additional $2 million in private investments to fund this pilot program,” she wrote.

Council member Sydney Harrison echoed the same sentiment as he casted his approval.

“I feel like we have to be very innovative of how we create the additional funding that is needed to implement the program successfully,” Harrison said.

Prince George’s County is the latest jurisdiction in the D.C. area to approve a universal basic income program. Alexandria, Virginia, approved $500 payments in the fall of last year. Montgomery County, Maryland, also approved a similar program in 2021.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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