Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced the initial spending and demographic results of Newark’s guaranteed income pilot program, called the Newark Movement for Economic Equity (NMEE), rolled out as part of a major, nationwide step forward for the guaranteed income movement.
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income’s new Data Dashboard shows that in Newark and around the country, families are using their need-based cash payments to cover necessities in an uncertain economy — providing them with the opportunity, freedom, and resilience they need to build financial security.
“Early data from the Newark Movement for Economic Equity confirms what we already know; too many of our residents are walking a financial tightrope,” said Mayor Baraka. “Newark residents participating in our pilot purchased essential goods and services at a time of escalating prices. Most importantly, the funds provided them with the freedom to think bigger and make moves toward a more self-determined life. My administration is pursuing a comprehensive equitable development strategy that prioritizes local ownership and wealth building. This guaranteed income pilot is just one tool of many toward achieving our Newark Forward values.”
Here in Newark, the Newark Movement for Economic Equity addresses economic insecurity by providing 430 Newark residents, 400 in the research pilot and 30 in an initial planning cohort, with $6,000 per year for two years. Program participants receive payments on a bi-weekly and semi-annual basis, with 50 percent receiving $250 bi-weekly and 50 percent receiving $3,000 twice yearly. In order to qualify, residents had to be living at 200 percent of the federal poverty line or less, have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and be at least 18 years of age.
The program identified MoCaFi, a Newark-based, African-American-owned, financial technology company as its financial disbursement partner. MoCaFi provides access to banking, credit building, and wealth coaching services to pilot participants.
Program participant Shamonique Jones expressed how the payments enabled her to afford critical necessities. “What I thought was going to be the coldest winter ever turned out to be one of the best,” she said. “The Guaranteed Income Program helped me pay off all of my preexisting debt, buy my four kids new uniforms, winter clothes and boots…The pandemic took so much from us socially and emotionally…I was happy that my children were happy, and my hope was restored,” she said.
Initial data from the Newark Movement for Economic Equity shows:
The majority of the funds were spent on necessities like food, household goods, and transportation.
- 40 percent of the funds were spent at retailers and discount superstores on things like food, clothes, household goods and hygiene products.
- 26 percent was spent at grocery stores.
- 10 percent was spent on transportation costs like gas and car repair.
- 12 percent went to housing and utilities.
- Other expenses included loan repayments, medical expenses, and tuition.
- 77.75 percent of participants are women, 21.25 percent men, and 0.5 percent non-binary.
- 82 percent of participants are single.
- Two-thirds of participants have children in the household.
- The average participant household size is three, with an average of two children.
- 81.50 percent of participants are Non-Hispanic, a majority of whom are African-American.
- 18.50 percent of participants identify as Hispanic.
- The average household income for participants is $8,749.
“The Newark Movement for Economic Equity is a strong example of the impact that policies that empower people can have in a community. All because of this guaranteed financial resource, residents in the pilot have been able to save money, move into better housing conditions, get caught up on bills left by COVID-19 unemployment, and think about going back to school,” stated Kaleena Berryman, Program Manager of the Newark Movement for Economic Equity.
“The data released today is a breakthrough for justice, equality, and the guaranteed income movement. It proves that cash is an urgent solution to the failures of the American economy. It’s time for leaders, at every level, to join us in this guaranteed income movement to finally create an economy that works for all,” said Michael D. Tubbs, currently a Special Advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom for Economic Mobility and Opportunity, and former Mayor of that state’s City of Stockton. He is the Founder of Mayor’s for a Guaranteed Income.