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Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, universal basic income
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Tacoma pilot program will give monthly $500 payments to families starting this summer

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. (Facebook)

Late last year, Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards announced her plans to launch a universal basic income pilot program. Now, those plans are beginning to take shape, with the city and its local partners revealing the first details on how the program will work.

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Working with United Way of Pierce County, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, the Urban League, Sound Outreach, and the Tacoma Housing Authority, the city’s pilot will be called “Growing Resilience in Tacoma,” or GRIT.

Over a 12-month period, GRIT will provide “at least 100 families facing poverty” a monthly stipend of $500 each. Those participants will be randomly selected based on a handful of qualifying factors, revolving largely around those laid out in the “ALICE” acronym: Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, and Employed. A special focus will be paid to BIPOC residents and single heads of household residents who meet the ALICE criteria.

Tacoma received a $500,000 donation from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last December to foot most of the bill for the pilot, with additional $100,000 from the Mayors for Guaranteed Income (MGI) group covering the rest. The MGI’s coalition of city leaders — founded by former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs — includes Woodards, as well as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti among many others.

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Tubbs’ program in Stockton is largely viewed as the model for Tacoma’s own pilot.

That program distributed $500 in direct monthly payments to over 125 families spanning 18 months. Over that period, 43% of participants worked full- or part-time; 11% took care of parents or children; 20% had some sort of disability; and just 2% said they weren’t looking for work. Of the $500 they received monthly, 40% went toward food, 25% to sales and other merchandise, and 12% was been spent on utility payments.

GRIT will open up the application process “in early summer” of this year, with funds expected to be released by late summer.

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