Rochester City Council approves guaranteed basic income pilot

By James BattagliaJack Watson

Original article:

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In its meeting Tuesday night, Rochester City Council unanimously approved a measure to create a Guaranteed Basic Income pilot program in the city.

Under the initial proposal presented by former Mayor Lovely Warren as her final act in office, 175 families in the City of Rochester who live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level would receive $500 per month for one year. A separate group of 175 families would receive the same amount monthly under the second year of the proposal.

“I will say there is a lot of work internally that the incoming mayor will have to make sure that this is implemented with fidelity,” said Mayor-elect Malik Evans, who is on the council. “We will work to do that while also simultaneously working to ensure that we do everything we can with public and private partnerships to expand both these pieces of legislation, but there is much work to be done, so we ask for patience.”

“We’re going to move this forward, and I believe it’s going to be great because we’re going to continue to do the work,” said City Council President Loretta Scott.

“It is a pilot that’s going to be a pilot that grows into a magnificent example of what government can do when we get our heads on straight.”

City council approved a measure to pay for the proposal with American Rescue Plan Act funds. The pilot program would cost an estimated $2.2 million, paying The Black Community Focus Fund, Inc. $50,000 annually to manage the program. 

“This pilot will allow us to collect data that will hopefully allow us to create better policies, to provide permanent economic floors for people,” said Rev. Myra Brown, whose organization is tasked with administering the program, in an interview with News 8.

Rev. Brown told News 8 the organization’s work will now begin on the nuts and bolts – how residents can apply, and the structure of the program.

Jarrett Felton, with Rochester-based Invessent, Wealth Management says this is a more focused approach than universal basic income, a similar program with a similar name.

“This is more of a targeted approach, laser-sharp focus,” Felton explained. There are, “requirements people have to meet in order to qualify. I’m sure there’s a number of people who do try and sign up for it as well.”

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