By: Marlo Lacen
New data released on Tuesday shows how families enrolled in Shreveport‘s Universal Basic Income program are spending the extra income.
The universal basic income program in Shreveport started in early February. More than 22,000 qualified households applied, and 110 families were selected. The program provides cash payments to single parents with school-age children whose income was at or below 120% of the federal poverty line.
Caddo Parish Commission Stormy Gage-Watts calls the program a game changer for families.
“It was implemented to help citizens improve their lives, and that is exactly what it has done,” Gage-Watts said.
Universal Basic Income is not a new idea.
The concept of providing basic income for citizens as a way to balance income inequality dates back centuries and, in recent years, has collected a diverse group of supporters, including Andrew Yang, Elon Musk, Pope Francis, and many global economists.
Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins said more leaders should get on board with guaranteed income programs.
“We want to not just have it as pilot programs we actually want to codify it in budgets, not just at the local level but at the state level and the federal level as well,” Perkins said.
New data shows that recipients in Shreveport use the additional income in the following ways:
- Food, clothes, household goods, and hygiene products purchased at retailers, and superstores – 54.31%
- Grocery store purchases – 22.27%
- Transportation costs such as gas and auto repairs – 5.92%
- Housing, utilities – 6.78%
- Other expenses include loan repayments, medical expenses, tuition
LaKendra is a participant in the guaranteed income program and says that help doesn’t come often, and she appreciates being part of the participant group.
The Shreveport UBI program provides program participants $660 per month over a 12-month period, which one program participant calls a much-needed cushion in trying economic times.
“I think the program is helpful to a lot of families. Everybody has their different situations or issues, and it just helps a lot,” LaKendra said.
Opponents of universal income programs say that providing payments will discourage people from working, decreasing government revenue through tax collection.