A group of low-income families in central Iowa will get a financial boost from a program which nonprofit leaders hope will be a better way to reduce poverty.

One-hundred-ten families in Polk, Dallas and Warren counties will get 500 dollars per month to spend as they choose through the pilot project called UpLift. Anne Bacon, of IMPACT Community Action Partnership in Des Moines, says that extra cash can keep an unexpected bill from becoming a financial crisis.

Bacon says, “It allows people in poverty the flexibility to fill the gaps where they need it most without jumping through hoops and it provides the stability they need to allow them to look forward.” The two-year program is funded through private foundations and local governments including $500,000 from the City of Des Moines through the American Rescue Plan.

Similar  guaranteeed income programs are already in place in Stockton, California, and St. Paul, Minnesota. Nalo  Johnson, of the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, says the goal of the project is to study how well income assistance works to reduce poverty.
“Too often we are asked to invest in temporary solutions,” Johnson says, “but while they may address a need in the moment of crisis, they do not address the consistent experience of poverty.”

Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania will gather data from participants to learn how guaranteed income affects things like food security, housing stability and mental health. Applications for the program will be open for ten days starting tomorrow (Friday) at UpLiftIowa.org.

The 110 families will be picked at random from the applicant pool. The first payments will go out in May.

(By Grant Gerlock, Iowa Public Radio)

Radio Iowa