FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 2020
SAINT PAUL, MN - Today, Mayor Melvin Carter signed Executive Order 2020-24 authorizing the creation of the People’s Prosperity Pilot, Saint Paul’s Guaranteed Income Demonstration Program. Led by the Office of Financial Empowerment, the People’s Prosperity Pilot will provide up to 150 Saint Paul families with $500 per month in guaranteed income for a period of up to 18 months. The projected budget of up to $1.5 million will be supported through the Mayors For Guaranteed Income national network, philanthropy and City of Saint Paul CARES funds. Households will be randomly selected from CollegeBound Saint Paul families from the city’s most racially diverse and lowest wealth neighborhoods. The first cash payments to participants are expected to start this fall.
“More than ever before, this economic crisis has pushed families into crisis, struggling to maintain basic necessities for their children,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “This demonstration pilot is an exciting new approach to support our most vulnerable families while helping build the case for permanent guaranteed income programs at state and federal levels.”
“The divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘haves nots’ has never been more clearly on display. In our rich, developed nation, billionaire employers hire people at poverty wages and government programs are errantly designed to keep people stuck in low wage jobs with no path upward,” said Council President Amy Brendmoen. “I am proud that leadership in Saint Paul continues to create innovative ways to break cycles of poverty. The guaranteed income pilot program gives us an opportunity to directly impact our most vulnerable community members by leveraging private partnerships and non local funding sources. It is my hope that this 18-month test will demonstrate a new approach that can be taken to a broader level.”
“A guaranteed income for St. Paul families who are struggling more than ever is an essential step for the stability our residents deserve,” said Ward 4 Councilmember Mitra Jalali. “Our city has the chance to both help our residents in a crisis and contribute to national research that could restructure a more fair economy for all.”
Led by the Office of Financial Empowerment, 150 households will be randomly selected from enrolled CollegeBound Saint Paul families in the city’s most racially diverse and lowest wealth neighborhoods. These areas include the following zip codes:
- 55104 (St. Paul: Midway, Frogtown, Union Park)
- 55106 (St. Paul: Dayton's Bluff, Payne-Phalen)
- 55119 (St. Paul: Battle Creek - Highwood)
- 55117 (St. Paul: North End, Thomas-Dale)
Of the more than 1,800 families already enrolled in CollegeBound Saint Paul, more than 1,000 households are in these four zip codes. These areas have been identified as neighborhoods that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, as defined by unemployment insurance claims and cost-burdened households from a report conducted by Wilder Research and Family Housing Fund on the economic impacts of the pandemic. The median household income in these neighborhoods is approximately $35,000 per year.
Once selected, households will be contacted to complete enrollment and must verify they have a COVID economic impact to be eligible. These criteria include:
- Not hold public office in the City of Saint Paul or be a city employee; and
- Be the parent or guardian of a CollegeBound Saint Paul beneficiary whose contact information at the time of enrollment into CollegeBound Saint Paul indicates residence in zip codes 55104, 55106, 55119 or 55117; and
- Demonstrate a COVID-19-related adverse financial impact, such as:
- Adverse financial consequences experienced by the applicant as a result of being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off, or having work hours reduced due to COVID-19; or
- Adverse financial consequences experienced by the applicant as a result of being unable to work due to the applicant’s COVID-19 diagnosis, or a spouse’s or dependent’s COVID-19 diagnosis; or
- Adverse financial consequences experienced by the applicant as a result of lack of childcare due to COVID-19; or
- Adverse financial consequences experienced as a result of closing or reducing hours of a business that the applicant owns or operates due to COVID-19; or
- Other demonstrable adverse financial consequences experienced by the applicant due to COVID-19.
PROGRAM MANAGEMENT AND PAYMENT PROCESS
The Office of Financial Empowerment will staff and support the demonstration pilot using a web-based platform currently employed for CollegeBound Saint Paul, which coordinates enrollment, logistics and program information between participants and staff.
Households will receive a monthly cash benefit through a U.S. Bank financial product called the Focus Card, which many public benefits programs and employers use to make cash transfers. Participating households will agree to provide transaction information about expenditures on the Focus Card and will complete surveys about their participation to contribute to the evaluation of the program.
The City is working to determine tax implications for participants and is pursuing an income and asset exclusion from the State of Minnesota to minimize impacts on public benefits.
The budget for the program is projected to be up to $1.5 million, with up to $1.35 million of the total budget for direct cash benefits to participants. Identified funding for the program includes support from the Mayors For Guaranteed Income national network, philanthropy, and City of Saint Paul CARES funds.
ADVISORS & EVALUATION
In collaboration with the Mayors for Guaranteed Income Network, the City of Saint Paul is assembling a circle of advisors to provide guidance and expertise in evaluating the pilot. The evaluation will support advocacy efforts to advance guaranteed income policies at the state and federal levels.
ABOUT EXECUTIVE ORDER 2020-24
Emergency Executive Order 2020-24 authorizes the establishment of the People’s Prosperity Guaranteed Income Demonstration Pilot and directs the City of Saint Paul’s Office of Financial Empowerment to implement the program.
ABOUT GUARANTEED INCOME AND ‘MAYORS FOR A GUARANTEED INCOME’
A guaranteed income is a monthly, cash benefit distributed directly to participating individuals. It is unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements. A guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and can be a tool for racial and gender equity.
Mayor Carter joined Mayors for a Guaranteed Income along with a cohort of mayors from across the country earlier this year to advocate for guaranteed income policy at the state, and federal level, invest in narrative change efforts to highlight the lived experiences of economic insecurity and invite other cities to join in its efforts by providing technical assistance and funding support for new pilots. Learn more about Mayors for a Guaranteed Income at https://www.mayorsforagi.org/.
Updates and additional information about the People’s Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot Program will be available at stpaul.gov/prosperity.