Newark to launch ‘guaranteed income’ pilot program for up to 400 residents

Economic equity program will provide individuals unconditional monthly cash payments with no strings attached, no work requirements

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka will announce details Monday on a pilot program that will provide approximately 400 Newark residents with a guaranteed monthly income.

The initiative is part of the Newark Movement for Economic Equity and is being run in partnership with Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a group that was founded last June. MGI is a coalition of mayors who are advocating for a guaranteed income. The city of Newark was one of the first cities to join the MGI network.

Newark’s guaranteed income pilot program also will serve as a research study that will explore the impacts of providing residents with a guaranteed income.

The program is different from the typical social safety net program, including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid (just to name a few). Unlike these programs, guaranteed income provides continuous and unconditional cash transfers to individuals or households. Guaranteed income is generally targeted, whereas universal basic income is meant to go to everyone.

City officials said they have identified $2.2 million in private funds to date, led by the Victoria Foundation.

The program will start with a cohort of 30 randomly selected Newark residents, who are at least 18 and have an income level that is 200% below the federal poverty limit. It aims to gradually increase to up to 400 residents, city officials said.

The amount of income those selected will receive was not made available.

The concept of a guaranteed income is rooted in a history of racial justice — in 1967, against a similar backdrop of civil unrest and racial reckoning, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for guaranteed income as the simplest and most effective solution to poverty.

Newark officials said this pilot program will be layered on top of other economic interventions the city is putting forward to promote financial security.

At the end of the pilot, Newark officials will review findings from the results and to determine if they want to push for the expansion of a guaranteed income policy at the state and federal levels.

Baraka will provide more details at 1 p.m. Monday at City Hall. Some participants who have been selected for the original cohort will speak.