Andrew Yang’s nonprofit is giving 20 New Yorkers $500 a month for the next five years
Former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang is teaming up with a local outreach group to give 20 upstate New Yorkers $500 a month for the next five years as part of his political push for a universal basic income, the Daily News has learned.
The 20 recipients have yet to be identified, but Yang told The News in an interview last week that they will be low-income residents of the upstate town of Hudson, which has a 19.2% poverty rate.
“This is what our government should be doing, not just for 20 people, but for everyone,” said Yang, whose presidential campaign was centered on the idea that every American adult should receive a monthly $1,000 stipend from the federal government.
The total price tag for the pilot project in Hudson will clock in at $600,000, Yang said.
Yang’s nonprofit organization, Humanity Forward, will foot half the bill and the rest will be covered by Spark of Hudson, a community center set to launch this year. Spark of Hudson, with input from local community organizers, will also be responsible for selecting the 20 recipients.
Yang said Humanity Forward will keep tabs on how the 20 individuals spend their cash and research the results.
“You’re going to see that people become mentally healthier, more optimistic, more secure in their future. Millions of Americans experienced this with the stimulus check,” Yang said, referring to the $1,200 direct payments the government sent out as part of the coronavirus rescue legislation signed into law in March.
Yang’s nonprofit has organized similar universal income initiatives before, but the Hudson project is the first long-term investment.
In March, as the coronavirus pandemic began putting a squeeze on the U.S. economy, Humanity Forward disbursed $1 million in $1,000 cash payments to 1,000 working poor households in the Bronx.
Ramona Ferreyra was one of those beneficiaries.
“Having that allowance, even for just one month, made a big difference,” said Ferreyra, a 39-year-old Bronx native who lives in public housing with her grandma in Mott Haven.
Ferreyra suffers from a severe form of arthritis that makes her unable to work full time. Before she got sick, she earned a six-figure salary as a contractor for the Defense Department.
But once she got her diagnosis a few years back, Ferreyra said, she had to go on public assistance to complement the modest income she makes from running a small baby clothing company.
Thanks to the $1,000 check from Humanity Forward, Ferreyra said, she was able to invest in digital advertising for her company and also put some cash in “savings for the first time in a really long time.”
Ferreyra said the coronavirus pandemic has brought the need for universal basic income to the forefront.
“COVID has made it clear to the rest of the country why a basic income is important,” she said. “To build a strong economy, people need to have the bare necessities, like food, shelter.”
“How would you feel like if you had money secured every month? I think you’d feel great,” Yang said. “I think you’d feel like a load had lifted. You can think bigger and more positively and what you’re going to do in the future. We can do that for everyone.”