By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) – The city of Shreveport is launching a new guaranteed income program that will distribute the first payments to more than 100 of the city’s low-income residents later this month.
More than 22,000 Shreveport residents applied to participate in Mayor Adrian Perkins’ no-strings-attached guaranteed income program ahead of the Jan. 17 deadline, and 110 are expected to receive notice soon of a $660 a month boost over the next year. The first payments are set to go out Feb. 28.
The program is part of a broader Mayors for Guaranteed Income initiative that aims to establish pilot programs across the country, and Perkins has promoted the Shreveport plan as a needed lifeline for the city’s less fortunate.
“An estimated 25% of the citizens in Shreveport are living in poverty and a guaranteed income would empower recipients to address their most urgent day-to-day needs and unpredictable expenses,” Perkins said.
The pilot program – a joint effort between the city, Caddo Parish and United Way of Northwest Louisiana – is funded with $500,000 from Mayors for Guaranteed Income and $432,000 in matching funds approved by the Caddo Parish Commission.
Participants were selected by an independent lottery of applicants who live within the city, with half from Shreveport’s five poorest zip codes. Those eligible must be single parents living without a partner who earn less than 120% of the federal poverty level: $17,420 annually for a family of two up to $44,660 for a family of eight.
The city vetted applicants to ensure only one participant per household.
City officials plan to research how the direct cash payments impact household incomes, employment, mental and physical health, as well as changes in behavior, school attendance and academic performance. The money comes with no work or education requirements, or conditions on how the money is spent.
A FAQ on the city website details how the program is structured.
“An outside, independent entity will conduct a lottery to select participants from the eligible pool of applicants. Once participants are selected, a second lottery will sort eligible applicants,” according to the site. “Participants will be randomly selected into a ‘treatment intervention group,’ and a ‘control group,’ or a non-participant group. The intervention group will receive the guaranteed income. The control group will not receive the guaranteed income, but will be invited to participate in future research activities.