Direct cash payment program opens in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward
Applications are now open for the Old Fourth Ward’s new “guaranteed income” program. It’s intended for Black women affected by COVID-19 and living close to the poverty line.
More than 200 Atlanta applicants will be randomly selected to receive two years of payments of around $850 a month.
The amount of aid to be given out and the program’s structure was created in consultation with community members and experts.
An economic security task force launched in the Old Fourth Ward to examine the impacts of growing levels of income inequality in the area. The group also conducted a survey and held listening sessions with residents.
“The task force recommended that the program be focused on Black women, and that was largely driven by the trends that we see. Black women face really disproportionately high barriers to income stability and wealth creation, more so than almost any other group,” says Hope Wollensack, who directs the Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund.
“They’re one of the most likely groups to not only be born into poverty, but to get stuck in poverty.”
The direct cash payment model has long been studied as an anti-poverty intervention, including in Jackson, Mississippi, home to one of the first U.S. guaranteed-income programs, the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which started in 2018.
That program distributes $1,000 a month — no strings attached for 12 months — to very low-income families headed by a Black woman, and its data shows participants reported an increase in being able to pay all of their bills on time without support, save money for an unexpected emergency and afford food and other basic needs.
Similar to the Jackson program, Atlanta’s comes with no spending requirements attached to the funds to be distributed, says Wollensack.
“The no strings-attached component is really not just a matter of what the research says, it’s also a matter of respecting people’s agency and autonomy and choice,” she says, “to make choices that work best for them and have the flexibility to do that.”
Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward area is the first of three Georgia sites to pilot a guaranteed-income program.
Later this summer, a second site will launch for residents in Clay, Terrell and Randolph Counties in Southwest Georgia. Details on the third location have not yet been announced.
Eligibility information and applications can be found at www.InHerHands.us.