Durham County in North Carolina has given the green light to a fresh pilot program for assured income, designed to assist underprivileged families in the region. Named “DCo Thrives,” this endeavor received unanimous approval from the Durham County Board of County Commissioners just last week. Under the DCo Thrives initiative, 125 families are set to receive a monthly guaranteed income of $750, alongside ongoing surveys to assess the program’s impacts.
This program becomes part of a collection of comparable undertakings in various cities nationwide, all geared towards assessing the viability and impact of universal basic income. This concept proposes that furnishing individuals with a fixed, guaranteed monthly income could potentially ameliorate poverty and overall quality of life.
Initiatives and Experiments with Universal Basic Income
Additionally, the county plans to offer another subset of 125 individuals, who won’t be receiving the stipend, the opportunity to participate in surveys. This comparative approach aims to evaluate and contrast the results between families that didn’t benefit from the additional $750 increment. The funding for the DCo Thrives initiative, amounting to $1.69 million, will be sourced from the American Rescue Plan Act. This legislative measure, a partisan response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was swiftly enacted shortly after President Joe Biden assumed office.
To qualify for participation in the program, households were required to meet certain criteria. They needed to have a child below the age of 18 and maintain an income that equaled or fell below 30% of the county’s median income.
Brenda Howerton, Chairwoman of the Durham County Board of Commissioners, emphasized that a significant aspect of this pilot is to provide aid to the children of families facing difficulties, as reported by ABC 11.
“It’s vital for our children’s well-being and learning that their parents are in a position to thrive—having a stable home and sufficient nourishment,” Howerton stated, underscoring the importance of the initiative’s focus on child development and education.
It’s worth noting that Durham has previously ventured into experimental pilot programs resembling Universal Basic Income (UBI)
In the previous year, the City of Durham launched the “Excel” program, which extended guaranteed income to 109 individuals who had been formerly incarcerated. Through this initiative, these residents received monthly stipends amounting to $600. Although the program concluded earlier this year, a budget of $1 million was allocated within Durham’s financial framework to sustain its continuation.
Advocates of UBI assert that a comprehensive system of direct payments could render employment more feasible by reducing economic obstacles. They also view it as a means for families to surmount challenges related to healthcare and education. However, critics contend that UBI programs, particularly on a national scale, might become excessively costly and could potentially have adverse consequences due to the significant tax burden they would entail.
Numerous localities have explored the implementation of guaranteed income programs, particularly since the onset of the pandemic. A noteworthy instance unfolded in Stockton, California, in February 2019. Led by former Mayor Michael Tubbs, the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration bestowed $500 per month upon 125 residents of the city.
Across the globe, the most expansive UBI pilot is underway in Africa. GiveDirectly has been investigating the comprehensive ramifications of UBI since 2017. Over 20,000 recipients from almost 200 villages in Kenya have been granted funds, with an additional 100 villages serving as a comparison group for assessment.