Oct 26, 2021 - News

Montgomery Co. wants to pilot a guaranteed income program

Illustration of an escalator with steps made out of 5 and 10 dollar bills.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Montgomery County, Maryland officials today will introduce a resolution to pilot a guaranteed income program.

Details: The $1.9 million program would provide 300 low-income households with a no-strings payment of $800 a month for 24 months.

  • In 2018, an estimated 47% of renter households in Montgomery County used more than 30% of their income for housing, the resolution says.
  • Of the 300 households in the program, an estimated 100 of them will be residents in the homeless system, or the Continuum of Care.

Between the lines: This would be the first guaranteed income pilot program in Maryland, but not in the region.

  • Arlington County has its own pilot that gives $500 a month to 200 families while Alexandria’s program gives $500 a month to 150 families.
  • Arlington’s program is funded through a local nonprofit while Alexandria is relying on federal coronavirus relief funds.
  • Funding for the Montgomery County program would come from the county’s general fund reserves which will cover at least the first 7 months of the program, with additional funding from the Meyer Foundation, says Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando.

In the resolution, Montgomery County points to the early success of the first such model of guaranteed income in Stockton, California, which launched in 2019.

  • A report on the first year found that the Stockton program reduced monthly fluctuations in income, enabled participants to find full employment, and alleviated depression and anxiety.

What they’re saying: Jawando, who co-sponsored the bill along with council vice president Gabe Albornoz, says this is a key moment to pilot a guaranteed income program, noting that stimulus checks and child tax credits have set a precedent for such initiatives.

  • “These types of cash payments can really help people in a big way and prevent homelessness, prevent poverty, help support people to secure employment and more education,” Jawando says. “I’m glad that we’re going to be able to do one of the larger, more robust examples of it in the region.”

What’s next: The resolution has support so far from six out of nine council members, and Jawando is optimistic for passage before Thanksgiving.

  • A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2 before the resolution likely goes to a committee for a full vote.

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