Boulder offers guaranteed income pilot program

picture by Sharon McCutcheon to Unsplash

Saturday January 29, 2022

With millions of federal dollars in hand, Boulder is poised to give low-income residents what they need most: cash, to spend on what they want.

The city is offering a guaranteed income pilot program, starting this year and running through 2024. Unlike most government aid, it wouldn’t come with strings attached or restrictions, but would give recipients the freedom to invest money. money in what they need most.

“The core concept,” staff wrote in memos to council, released Thursday, “is to provide flexible and regular cash payment to low-income residents to be used as needed by individuals and families without the categorical restrictions of most aid programs. ”

It is not the same as universal basic income, perhaps a better known concept. UBI aims to cover the costs of basic needs for everyone. Guaranteed income is small payments to a smaller group of people; generally the poorest of a given population.

A some American cities have guaranteed or basic income programs, including Denver. Last year, the governor of California provided $35 million in the state budget for municipalities to start their own. The National League of Cities, of which Boulder is a member, produce a report on UBI highlighting its long history, global application and myriad benefits, from reducing generational poverty to increasing housing and schooling security, improving nutrition and a better overall health.

“While the community social safety net has provided additional support to help community members cope with the pandemic,” staff noted, “one of the most consistent requests is flexible money for a variety of needs”.

Details on who would be eligible and how much they would receive are TBD. The staff did not provide details, but asked for $250,000 to “explore the feasibility and potentially launch” a pilot program. Up to $2.75 million would be needed to run the pilot program through 2024.

Funds would come from the federal government, through the American Rescue Plan Act. Boulder receives $20 million over two years; half in July 2021 and half this summer.

The city already allocated ~$5 million to restore municipal services and reduced staff during COVID ($868,600) and assist community members and businesses ($2.1 million), with $2 million set aside for unforeseen pandemic-related costs . $350,000 was used to provide $250 bonuses to city employees who received the COVID vaccine, and $75,000 bought masks in bulk for area businesses to supply to customers.

Staff sent their recommendations for the rest of the money to the council this week. Elected officials will discuss it on February 8 and will be added to the 2022 budget after a March 15 public audience.

Round 2 recommendations – $4.376 million

$500,000 for

  • Direct financial assistance
  • Emergency food aid
  • child care
  • Transportation assistance
  • Help with the digital divide

$620,000 for

  • Small business programs, grants
  • Al fresco dining pilot
  • Tourist entertainment
  • Workforce training

$191,000 for emergency response connectors

  • “The direct goal of the ERC program is to ensure that underrepresented community members in Boulder (eg Latinx, Nepalese, low income) benefit from intervention and recovery activities. The data suggests that most unrepresented communities have suffered and continue to suffer a disproportionate impact due to COVID.
  • Pay a part-time, term employee to oversee the program

$250.00 for the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program

$1.5M for Homeless Solutions: Building a Home

  • “Day programming, peer support services and in-home wellness services aimed at improving housing retention and building community among the cohort of people ready to be housed or recently housed within Homeless Solutions for Boulder County (HSBC)”
  • “Structured daytime programming, tenant-related education (understanding leases, how to care for a home, cooking, etc.) and a place of employment assistance (resume writing, computer searches, etc.)”
  • Allow for coordinated case management services

$50,000 for fiber/smart cities phase 2

  • Design work for fiber broadband construction
  • Potential opportunity to leverage additional federal infrastructure funds if design is complete by the time funding is available

$100,000 to update the economic sustainability strategy

  • Last updated in 2013
  • “To better reflect the economic conditions the community is facing as it emerges from the pandemic, build economic resilience, and help prepare for the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Update” in 2025
  • Potential to leverage other federal government stimulus funds
  • Up to $1.2M set aside for economic recovery identified in the strategy (Slice 3, below)

$915,000 for artistic labor grants

  • “A hiring incentive for non-profit organizations to employ visual, performing and literary artists from the Boulder area to perform or create new work.”
  • “An enhancement grant for recipients of operating support to rehire arts administration positions that have been cut due to the pandemic. »

$300,000 to restore arts and culture programs suspended during COVID

  • The city’s arts department will hire an economic staff position
  • “Neighborhood art commissions will create social practice art projects for a year”
  • Second Round of COVID-19 Work Projects

Round 3 recommendations (after July 2022 payment) – $15.45 million

Up to $2.5 million to strengthen behavioral health services

  • “Support incentives for the hiring and retention of mental health professional staff and related capacity building service”

Up to $50,000 for work on the digital divide

  • Solutions needed until the fiber network is built

Up to $1.5 million for childcare

  • Provide training and resources to home child care businesses
  • Provide money to low-income families for childcare
  • Increase the capacity of the existing childcare business

Up to $2.75M for guaranteed income

Up to $4 million for San Lazaro Mobile Home Community Annexation

  • Will provide water and sewage services
  • Estimated costs: $1M for water connections, $2M for sewage and $1M in fees
  • Usually paid by owner

Up to $1.5M to support mobile home communities

  • Ponderosa Second Mortgage Program, to help reduce the costs of replacing older mobile homes with new fixed foundation homes from Habitat for Humanity. As with mobile homes, residents will own the buildings and lease the land below.

Up to $1.2 million for economic recovery

  • Could help pay for training required for many jobs (commercial driver’s license, CPR, de-escalation training, etc.)
  • Could help pay for/create space for commercial kitchens, labs, research facilities, etc.

— Shay’s Castle, @shayshinecastle

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