Funding allocated for Shreveport Mayor’s basic income pilot program

By Deborah Bayliss

Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins’s plan for a pilot Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) program is finally seeing some movement.  

Not much had been said about the program since Perkins’s announcement last year that he was joining other mayors across the country (Mayor’s for Guaranteed Income) who plan to institute GBI pilots in their regions.

A recent $432,000 appropriation from the Caddo Parish Commission at Caddo Parish Commissioner Stormy Gage-Watts’ recommendation, sparked new conversation and additional financial support for the mayor’s program.

“This is something that’s being provided to low-income families with school-age children and will be done over a 12-month course,” Gage-Watts told The Times.

Stormy Gage-Watts Caddo Commissioner District 7 Commissioner – Douglas Collier/The Times

That appropriation will come from the $48 million Caddo Parish received from the American Rescue Plan Act federal grant.

However, only half of the $432,000 can be provided this year since the parish has only received half of the Rescue Plan funding. The other half will be allocated once the parish receives the other half of the $48,000,000 next year.

The funding will go out to the City of Shreveport once an agreement has been signed.

Overall, the parish funding will help 120 single-family households with $600 per family for 12 months.

The parish’s $432,000 will only go as far as 6 months of help. Matching funds for the remaining months will come from a $500,000 donation from Mayors for Guaranteed Income to the City of Shreveport.

Though the commission is providing funding, Mayor Perkins has stressed that he would not be using any city funds for the program, something that has not changed.

“Twenty-five percent of the citizens in Shreveport are living in poverty and UBI would help more of our residents maintain a better quality of life,” Perkins said in a statement to The Time. “We are in the first phase of raising money for the program and I am excited to know that the Caddo Parish Commission is on board with improving the lives of our citizens.”

The $500,000 donation to the mayor’s pilot is by way of an $18 million donation from Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey. That funding will be released, according to Saadia McConville with Mayors for Guaranteed Income, once the mayor’s GBI program is further along in the design phase. 

GBIs are described as a type of cash transfer program that provides continuous

As for the economic outlook in Shreveport, in order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair-market rent, full-time workers need to earn a minimum of $16.56 per hour, according to a report titled, “Out of Reach,” from the  National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for the lowest income citizens, and Housing LOUISIANA, a state-wide network of nine regional housing coalitions working to solve the state’s affordable housing crisis.

“These are still very trying times. We cannot do enough,’ Gage Watts said. “There’s still job loss, needs, and things beyond food. (People) need shelter. It takes a lot to run a household, especially if it’s a single-parent household.”

This is also being done in partnership with the Department of Community Development, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, and the Shreveport Financial Empowerment Center, Gage-Watts added.

Participants for the mayor’s GBI program will be chosen by zip code with the lowest income first, Gage-Watts said. All participants must be single parents with school-aged children and incomes up to 120% of the poverty rate.

An analysis last year found that Louisiana ranks third in the nation for high risk for evictions due to job losses, with 130,000 households across Louisiana at risk for eviction.

“We’re at a point of ‘this is it,”’ Gage-Watts said. “But yet, we’re still trying to find other resources to be able to offer assistance to those citizens in need. Hopefully and prayerfully, the (DBI) is a way to help them to get back on their feet as well.” Gage-Watts said.

A resolution in support of the program authorizing the mayor to execute of memorandum of understanding with the Mayors for Guaranteed Income coalition (MGI) the Shreveport Financial Empowerment Center (SFEC) and United Way of Northwest Louisiana is on the agenda for passage during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Following passage, the City will receive funds in the amount of $500,000 from the Mayors for Guaranteed Income Coalition (MGI), and matching funds in the amount of $450,000 will be obtained from other non-City sources for a total of $950,000 in funding for the program.

The funds will be deposited into the Special Revenue Fund for Community Development, which will oversee all expenditures and ensure that the goals of the program, including but not limited to data collection, according to information provided in the  

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