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Guaranteed Income Programs Gearing up for Rochester Residents

Two programs aimed at lifting Rochester residents out of poverty are being launched. Residents living below the poverty level can receive $500 per month from the Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) program and pregnant mothers may receive $1,000 per month from the Bridge Project.

GBI program recipients will receive unconditional $500 payments for 12 months but the program is limited to 351 participants who meet the following criteria: Must be 18 years of age or older; Must be a resident of the City of Rochester for at least one year; Household income must be at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL); Must reside in a qualified census tract in the City of Rochester; Only one individual per household can participate in the program.

Qualified city residents will be able to apply Thursday, June 22, through Thursday, June 29.

The program is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The launch was announced last week by Rochester Mayor Malik Evans.

“Rochester’s GBI program has the potential to create significant opportunities for our residents to not only survive, but to thrive,” Evans said. “We continue to work to take our city from a poverty mindset to a prosperity mindset, and to prioritize the well-being and economic stability of our community. GBI is one more program helping to do that.”

The Bridge Project is set to launch in Rochester next month and will offer pregnant women a $1,000 monthly cash benefit for 18 months, followed by18 months of $500 payments, all in biweekly installments and program participants can spend the money as they need to, no questions asked.

The program, offered through the Monarch Foundation, began in July of 2021, with an initial cohort of 100 low-income mothers. The organization says more than half of the recipients were either working or were looking for work, with an average income of $1,200 monthly before the project started.

"Recipients saw substantial improvements in their ability to access childcare and an increase in savings. 46 percent of funds were withdrawn as cash or transferred to other accounts, with recipients reporting primarily using those funds to pay for large expenses like rent," Monarch Foundation reported in a press release. "Of the money that remained on the debit card most was spent on merchandise such as diapers and wipes, with food as the second largest category."

State Assemblywoman Sarah Clark says guaranteed basic income programs across New York State have been effective in helping to lift people and families out of poverty.

“As the community with the highest concentration of childhood poverty and three of the five highest poverty ZIP Codes in the state, (GBI programs) have the potential to be transformational for our residents, families, and neighborhoods,” she said.


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