Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the Guaranteed Income Task Force today released its report and findings, with recommendations for a pilot program in the City of Newark and a federal guaranteed income policy. The report is a result of collaboration between the City of Newark, the Economic Security Project and The Jain Family Institute (JFI), an applied research organization covering some of the largest basic income implementations in the world.
The need for cash infusion to combat rampant financial insecurity has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and has put cash transfer policies like guaranteed income or universal basic income back into the national spotlight. Mayor Baraka has been a vocal supporter of the need for such a policy since he announced last spring that he was launching Newark’s Guaranteed Income Task Force to explore how regular, unconditional infusions of cash— could advance the needs of city residents.
Newark’s composition is much like other urban communities experiencing financial vulnerability: 78 percent of its residents are renters, and while median rents are up 20 percent, median income has been down 10 percent since 2000. Though Newark’s median income is less than $40,000 a year, United Way of Greater Newark estimates that a family must make $63,000 a year to meet basic needs. This is why a Newark pilot would focus on residents experiencing housing insecurity.
“With the novel coronavirus ravaging neighborhoods across America in general and Newark in particular, disproportionately impacting communities of color, there is an even greater need to support those communities, who are already at high risk,” said Mayor Baraka. “People do not have enough income coming in to take care of basic needs. These conditions were unacceptable before COVID-19 struck, and they are intolerable now. No person should have to deal with these stresses, and that is why we in Newark remain committed to pushing such a policy.”
Economic Security Project Co-chair Natalie Foster said, “Long before the COVID crisis was a human made crisis of an economy so broken that nearly half American families were unable to pull together $400 in an emergency if needed. We now have more than 40 million people unemployed due to COVID, and it’s hitting communities of color the hardest. A guaranteed income is needed more than ever. Newark’s leadership, under Mayor Baraka, is an important voice in the fight for economic justice nationally.”
The JFI Lead Researcher on Guaranteed Income, Stephen Nuñez said, “Newark’s task force report, and the pilot it proposes, are crucial steps in crafting an effective guaranteed income policy. Our research in the US and abroad tells us that guaranteed income is not only an effective poverty-fighting tool, but a way to guard against inevitable economic shocks whether they be household-specific or economy-wide like COVID-19. We applaud Newark for taking a first step towards this vital investment in a more resilient and inclusive safety net.”
Rachel Black, JFI Fellow and Associate Director, Financial Security Program at the Aspen Institute added, “The recommendations of Newark’s Guaranteed Income Task Force, to put community members in the driver’s seat of how a guaranteed income should be designed, are an essential re-calibration of who holds power in policy making, and should serve as a model as our nation grapples with addressing inequities pervasive throughout our public policy.”
In the report, the Task Force provided immediate state-level policy recommendations to increase residents’ access to financial security and recommended principles for the City of Newark to seek in a guaranteed income pilot.
The Task Force also recommended the City convene a Municipal Fines and Fees Task Force to study ways in which Newark’s collection of revenue from its residents could be contributing to their financial insecurity and to provide recommendations for potential reform.
The group comprises members from various community-based organizations, city partners, policy/research groups, foundations, and academia.
The City of Newark will now engage the local, state, and national foundation and donor community to seek funds to implement a guaranteed income pilot in the city. Interested donors can contact Kevin Callaghan, Newark Philanthropic Liaison, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Individual and smaller donors join us today by contributing online here. Your gift will support the recommendations of Newark’s Guaranteed Income Task Force to pilot guaranteed income in our city and help residents become financially secure and resilient.
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