Elorza joins coalition of mayors advocating for guaranteed income

Updated at 12:47 p.m. on Sept. 16, 2020.

PROVIDENCE – Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza on Wednesday announced he has joined a new coalition of mayors across the country calling for a form of guaranteed income.

Elorza is among 25 mayors in the newly formed Mayors for a Guaranteed Income who say they plan to explore some form of direct, cash payments in their cities, while also advocating for guaranteed income at the local, state and federal levels.

“The global pandemic has highlighted the inequities of our social safety net and exacerbated the disparities of health and wealth that exist for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color,” Elorza said in a statement provided to Providence Business News. “The best way to protect the long-term health and well-being of our communities is by providing direct financial assistance to our residents and I am inspired to join the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income to advocate for greater cash-based financial assistance policies at the municipal, state and federal level.”

In addition to advocacy, the group’s founding principles also include “invest[ing] in narrative change efforts to highlight the lived experiences of economic insecurity” and providing technical assistance and funding to support pilot guaranteed income programs in other cities, according to its website.

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The website defines guaranteed income as a monthly cash payment to individuals that is unconditional, with no work requirements. Exactly how such policies would work, including how much money recipients would get and where it would come from, has not been specified.

In a Zoom call with participating mayors Wednesday, leaders detailed a variety of criteria for how they would determine eligibility in their various cities, based on race, gender, income level and other factors. Elorza did not share any specifics on who would receive payments, but said he hoped to implement a pilot program in Providence in the next year.

Alex Morse, mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, is the only other municipal leader from New England to have signed on to the coalition, according to its website.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.

Correction: a previous version of this story inaccurately identified the scope of the proposed guaranteed payment system. 

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