Bruce Leshan, WUSA9, October 26, 2021
Montgomery County is officially joining the guaranteed basic income movement, becoming the first jurisdiction in Maryland to offer direct cash payments to low-income residents.
Starting at the beginning of next year, Montgomery County plans to pick 300 households at different points on the income scale, identified as “vulnerable,” and give them $800 a month for 24 months to use in any way they want.
The millions of dollars to fund the program will come from a public-private partnership with money from foundations, as well as funding approved by the county executive, and the county council.
“There will not be a way to sign up, we will select people,” Councilmember Will Jawando, one of the lead sponsors of the pilot program, said.
The hope is it will help hundreds of people advance themselves and their families.
“$800 can make the difference between paying rent or not, having food on the table or not,” Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz said. “But also, whether or not a young person can participate in an after-school program, or engage in college access and readiness programs that can improve their families.”
Stockton, California first piloted a guaranteed basic income program starting in 2019, giving $500 a month to 125 families.
Alongside Montgomery County, Alexandria and Arlington are also launching similar plans for people like Shay Holliman, who drives ride-share in addition to a full-time job.
“You can’t pay your rent and you have to send your kids to school with nothing,” Holliman told a reporter as Stockton was preparing to launch the program.