Lifestyle

Nonprofit Offers Women Universal Basic Income

A nonprofit called Springboard to Opportunities is giving 20 Black single mothers a year of universal basic income, $1,000 a month — and it has helped support major improvements to their lives.

The program is in Jackson, Mississippi. It originally helped low-income people write resumes and workforce development, but Aisha Nyandoro, who helped to establish the Jackson-based program, realized that no matter what Springboard offered, her mothers still couldn’t afford the basics.

When Nyandoro teamed up with Facebook co-founder Chris Hughesto bring his brand new foundation, Economic Security Project, to Springboard to Opportunities, most eligible women were worried they would lose much-needed federal benefits if they took the extra $1,000 a month.

Of the 110 women eligible to be a part of the program, only 38 applied.

20 women were chosen and started receiving checks in December. Six months into the program, The Washington Post reports, after being set up with financial advisers to help them navigate having disposable income, the women began having significant victories.

They used the extra money to take time off and finish community college, sent their children to camps and tutoring, visited family members, cooked healthier meals, visited the doctor, saved money and easily bought school supplies. And none of the women had used an emergency lender since receiving the money. Many of the women had better, higher-paying jobs.

“The beauty of all of this has just been how folks are light,” Nyandoro said. “They aren’t walking around with the heaviness of life that, unfortunately, so many times low-income folks have to carry.”

The idea of a universal basic income is a talking point among several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates:

Sen. Cory Booker proposed providing every child born in the United States $1,000 in interest-bearing accounts known as “baby bonds.”

Sen. Kamala Harris is pitching guaranteed tax refunds of up to $6,000 for families making less than six figures.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has staked his entire campaign on a “universal basic income” — giving $1,000 a month to every American adult.

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  1. What’s better than an unconditional Basic Income (BI)? A reduction in rents! Why? Because:
    (1) Nobody asks how we’re going to pay lower rents!
    (2) By definition, the benefit of lower rents isn’t competed away in higher rents — as a BI would be. (You don’t see this problem with “pilot” basic incomes; but you *will* see it if the BI becomes universal.)
    (3) Jobs can’t exist unless (a) the employers can afford business accommodation, and (b) the employees can afford housing within reach of their jobs, on wages that employers can pay. Lower rents therefore create jobs — reducing the need for a BI.
    (4) If lower rents don’t serve *all* the purposes of a BI, they reduce the size and cost of the BI needed to serve the remaining purposes.

    And how do we reduce rents? Impose rent control? NO!! That makes it less attractive to supply accommodation. But a tax on vacant lots and unoccupied buildings makes it less attractive NOT to supply accommodation! A vacant-property tax of $X/week makes it $X/week more expensive to fail to get a tenant, and thereby REDUCES, by $X/week, the minimum rent that will persuade the owner to accept a tenant. Better still, the economic activity driven by *avoidance* of that tax would broaden the bases of other taxes, allowing their rates to be reduced — offsetting the tax impact of a BI, if you still want one!

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