Atlanta to work with Urban League to launch citywide guaranteed income program

211220-Atlanta-Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms talks to journalists about her term as mayor during a press availability Monday morning, Dec. 20, 2021 at Atlanta City Hall. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Combined ShapeCaption
211220-Atlanta-Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms talks to journalists about her term as mayor during a press availability Monday morning, Dec. 20, 2021 at Atlanta City Hall. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Atlanta is partnering with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta nonprofit to launch the city’s first citywide guaranteed-income pilot program for low-income residents.

According to the mayor’s office, the Income Mobility Program for Atlanta Community Transformation, or I.M.P.A.C.T., will serve 300 residents who are at least 18 years old and live below 200% of the federal poverty line, about $53,000 for a family of four.

Participants in the program will receive $500 per month during the 12-month pilot period.

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The program is designed to address Atlanta’s struggle with income inequality. It was inspired by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said more than 50 years ago that “the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spearheaded the creation of the citywide program as one of her final initiatives before she left office Monday.

“Dr. King said, ‘The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.’ In the spirit of Dr. King’s vision for the beloved community, the launch of the I.M.P.A.C.T. program takes us another step closer to creating One Atlanta — an affordable, resilient and equitable Atlanta,” Bottoms said in a statement last Thursday.

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Atlanta is donating $2 million to the Urban League to launch the program. The city obtained those funds from the developers of Centennial Yards, which will replace the Gulch downtown.

National partner Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, an organization Bottoms helped start last year with the former mayor of Stockton, Calif., will also donate $500,000 to the Urban League to fund day-to-day operations of the program.

Stockton was the first city to successfully explore King’s version for guaranteed income. Pilot projects have also occurred in cities ranging from Los Angeles to Columbia, S.C.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms participated in a digital discussion on June 1, 2020 hosted by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with mayors of other metro areas about recent protests. A month later, she announced that she would join 10 other mayors from across the nation to explore providing guaranteed incomes to disadvantaged residents.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms participated in a digital discussion on June 1, 2020 hosted by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with mayors of other metro areas about recent protests. A month later, she announced that she would join 10 other mayors from across the nation to explore providing guaranteed incomes to disadvantaged residents.

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms participated in a digital discussion on June 1, 2020 hosted by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with mayors of other metro areas about recent protests. A month later, she announced that she would join 10 other mayors from across the nation to explore providing guaranteed incomes to disadvantaged residents.

The Urban League will administer the daily operations of the I.M.P.A.C.T. initiative and is currently working to make the first guaranteed income payments to the initial cohort of 25 participants, the mayor’s office announced.

“The timing couldn’t be more relevant to so many families hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Nancy Flake Johnson, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, said in a statement.

City Councilman Amir Farokhi is spearheading a similar program called the Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund. Beginning next year, this initiative will give an average of $850 per month for two years, totaling $13 million, to 650 Black women near or below the federal poverty line in urban, suburban, and rural Georgia.

The mayor’s office said I.M.P.A.C.T. participants will be selected at random. Low-income residents can visit the ULGA IMPACT program website at ulgacoaimpact.org to sign up to be notified when registration begins early next year.

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