Pittsburgh scraps plans for guaranteed basic income program


Original post can be found here.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey is scrapping plans to use American Rescue Plan funding for a guaranteed basic income pilot program in the city.

Former Mayor Bill Peduto had proposed using $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding for a pilot program to offer $500 monthly payments to 200 low-income Pittsburgh residents and track how participants used the cash for two years.

The concept has been tested in other cities across the country, where people have been given monthly cash payments ranging from $500 a month in Stockton, Calif., to $1,000 a month for Black mothers in Jackson, Miss.

Pittsburgh’s program had not begun when Gainey took office in January. His administration decided to nix the experimental program after investigating whether American Rescue Plan money could be used to fund it, said Gainey spokeswoman Maria Montaño.

“Our legal understanding is those funds would not be eligible for the way the previous administration had set up the (guaranteed basic income) program,” she said.

Montaño said Peduto’s administration had made tentative plans to use American Rescue Plan funding for the program before full federal guidelines were released to outline how the funding could be used.

The city hasn’t determined how it will spend the money that had been earmarked for the pilot program, Montaño said. Because the program was intended to help Black women in particular, the administration is now working to convene a group of Black women leaders who can offer input on how they think the money could best be used to help Black women in the city, she added.

“We believe that before we launch any program to help Black women, we have to have conversations with Black women, to have them at the table to have a voice,” Montaño said.

The guaranteed basic income program would have been operated through OnePGH, a nonprofit created under the Peduto administration.

Two members of Gainey’s administration — Deputy Chief of Staff Felicity Williams and City Planning Director Karen Abrams, both Black women — were recently named to the OnePGH board.

With the guaranteed basic income pilot program scrapped, Montaño said the purpose of OnePGH moving forward is somewhat unclear. The administration is working to “assess and review the commitments that OnePGH made and that the previous administration made through OnePGH,” she said.

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