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Low-income Philadelphians to receive no-strings-attached cash in antipoverty experiments

Philadelphia Inquirer

February 13, 2022

The City of Philadelphia will be introducing two programs that will distribute money to low-income residents with no strings attached. The goal of the programs is to understand the impact of cash infusions on household stability and economic well-being.

Described as experimental pilot programs, one is being conducted by the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation with the University of Pennsylvania, while the other is under the auspices of the city’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, according to various people familiar with the work.

Pilots like these have been conducted in more than 40 places throughout the United States over the last few years

The idea of the government paying Americans is not a new one, although there’s a distinction between guaranteed income and a related concept known as Universal Basic Income (UBI). That’s defined as consistent, unconditional payments distributed by the government to ensure a basic standard of living for every member of a community.

Guaranteed income programs target only specific populations in a community, chosen by the government.

Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, invoked the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who championed guaranteed income to abolish poverty. She said that UBI is worth the expense because it “helps people stay healthy and in school or on the job, it reduces mental health problems, and has no impact on employment rates.”

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