Jan 24, 2022 - News

Minneapolis' guaranteed basic income program takes shape

Minneapolis guaranteed basic income pilot program applications
Data: City of Minneapolis; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Minneapolis has received more than 8,000 eligible applications for 200 spots in its guaranteed basic income pilot program, Axios has learned.

The big picture: Minneapolis is joining cities across the country, including St. Paul, in experimenting with the unconditional cash stipends for low-income families.

How it works: Families selected for the program will receive $500 from the city every month for two years.

  • The city and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis will monitor those families, along with a control group of applicants who were not selected, to gauge the impact.

Who's eligible: Families living in nine historically impoverished Minneapolis ZIP codes who make 50% of the area's annual median income, about $52,000 for a family of four, or less.

  • Because the pilot is funded with $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act money, participants must have been adversely impacted by COVID-19.

Who applied: Residents living in ZIP codes covering Near North and Phillips neighborhoods submitted the most eligible applications, data obtained by Axios via a public records request shows.

  • Additional demographic information will be collected from those who enroll in the program.

Of note: The city rejected 6,000 applications that were duplicates or failed meet the program criteria.

  • While most of those were from other parts of the city and state, Minneapolis received submissions from places as far as California, Ohio and British Columbia, Canada.

Between the lines: City officials said they weren't surprised by the high interest, even though the application window was only four weeks. That's because they deliberately simplified the application in hopes of attracting "a good swath of demographics" from eligible areas.

  • "When we knew we were setting the parameters that wide, we knew we'd get a lot of applicants," employment and training manager Mark Brinda told Axios.

What they're saying: Erik Hansen, the city's director of economic policy and development, said the volume and geographic diversity of applications demonstrates demand for expanding the program if it proves effective.

  • "We know that the rural areas in Minnesota are struggling just as much as these nine ZIP codes in Minneapolis," Hansen told Axios.

What's next: The city randomized the list and is reaching out to families to confirm whether they want to participate, as the extra, taxable cash could impact other government benefits, Brinda said.

  • The target for finalizing the pilot group and sending out the first deposits is mid-March.
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