PITTSBURGH, PA (July 1, 2020) Mayor William Peduto has joined Mayors for Guaranteed Income, a forward-thinking network of a dozen mayors from around the country advocating for a guaranteed income to ensure that all Americans reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic have an income floor.
In the United States, wealth and income inequality have reached historic highs. Nearly 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a single $400 emergency, and rising income inequality is compounded by a growing racial wealth gap. The median white worker made 28 percent more than the typical Black worker and 35 percent more than the median Latinx worker in the last quarter of 2019, and the median wealth of white families is more than $100,000 while the median wealth of Black families is approximately $10,000. COVID-19 has further exposed the economic fragility of most American households, and has disproportionately impacted Black and brown people.
"COVID-19 has shaken the very foundations of American life and laid bare the economic inequity that especially affects our communities of color. In committing to policies around guaranteed income, we are proud to join groundbreaking leaders from cities across the country in fundamentally rethinking our economic structures to support and uplift the residents of Pittsburgh," Mayor Peduto said.
Founded last month by Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California, MGI advocates for direct and recurring cash payments to residents in order to build resilient and just communities.
Mayor Tubbs based the guiding “guaranteed income” philosophy on teachings by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “I'm now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”
A guaranteed income is a monthly cash payment given directly to individuals, empowering recipients to address their most urgent needs and providing a cushion for unpredictable expenses, external shocks, and volatility. It is unconditional, and is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net.
Cities such as Chicago, Newark, and Atlanta have formed task forces to explore a guaranteed income pilot program, typically in conjunction with local philanthropies. Pittsburgh plans to do the same, taking direct action on a guaranteed income pilot while also joining other cities in MGI to advocate for state and federal policy change.
Other cities in MGI have already started payments. In Stockton, the city gives $500 a month to 125 eligible residents. Los Angeles provided prepaid debit cards of $700 to $1500 to those whose total household income fell below the poverty line before COVID-19. Compton, California, gives $1,000 to families on food stamps. Jackson, Mississippi, gives $1,000 a month to 20 African-American mothers.
The 11 mayors already participating in MGI are:
The MGI Statement of Principles is available here.
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income is founded in partnership with the Economic Security Project. The coalition is also announcing a new partnership with What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative, to elevate lessons learned and expand best practices to additional cities across the country.
A resolution in support of guaranteed income was approved yesterday by United States Conference of Mayors. The resolution calls for the advancement of the following principles:
The USCM resolution (full text linked here), which was adopted on June 30 at the organization’s 88th annual meeting in Washington, D.C., encourages guaranteed income as a solution to economic insecurity, inequality, and poverty. A guaranteed income is a monthly cash payment given directly to individuals, empowering recipients to address their most urgent needs and providing a cushion for unpredictable expenses, external shocks, and volatility. It is unconditional, and is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net.
Biographies of the MGI mayors are available here at the MGI website.
ABOUT MAYORS FOR A GUARANTEED INCOME
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income is a coalition of mayors who will explore cash payment programs in their cities as a response to COVID-19 resulting in nationwide economic insecurity. The mayors will advocate for guaranteed income programs. Against a similar backdrop of civil unrest more than 50 years ago, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for the immediate abolition of poverty, and his economic dream of guaranteed income for all Americans. Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, CA founded the coalition following the success of his Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), funded by several philanthropic organizations, including the Economic Security Project. To learn more about Mayors for a Guaranteed Income visit www.mayorsforagi.org.