At least 100 Tacoma households will get $500 per month as part of new city program

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma’s guaranteed income pilot program will launch this summer.

The pilot, called GRIT — Growing Resilience in Tacoma — aims to serve at least 100 people chosen at random who will receive $500 a month for no less than 12 months.

Guaranteed income is a monthly cash payment given directly to people, with no strings attached, to use for various expenses.

The program will begin recruiting people in June and July with an application process. Participants are randomly selected by the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards announced the launch of the pilot at a news conference Thursday morning.

“It is our responsibility to make sure everyone who lives in our community has what they need to be successful,” Woodards said. “We talk a lot about equity and the importance of supporting those who needed the most. And in my opinion, this is one way to not just talk the talk but walk the walk.”

The pilot will focus on people of color and households with single head of households. Participants must be qualified Tacoma residents.

The pilot will also focus on ALICE households, or Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, which means their household budget is below $52,000 per year, which is about 20 percent less than the median household income. About 15 percent of these ALICE households are headed by single adults.

In Tacoma, 40 percent of households are considered ALICE, according to Dona Ponepinto, president and CEO of United Way of Pierce County.

The program is funded through private donations, and no taxpayer dollars will be used, Woodards said. The pilot will track how people use the money.

Woodards and Ponepinto were joined by former mayor of Stockton, Calif. Michael Tubbs, and Lori Pfingst, PhD, senior director for the Economic Services Administration with Washington State Department of Social and Health Services at Thursday’s news conference.

Woodards is a founding member of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), launched in June 2020 by Tubbs.

In December, Woodards announced Tacoma was one of more than 25 cities across the country to benefit from a $15 million donation made by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to MGI.

Tacoma’s cut of the donation was $500,000, on top of $100,000 in funding from MGI that City Council accepted in partnership with United Way of Pierce County.

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This story was published by The News Tribune.