A Georgia basic income program is giving Black women $850 a month. They say it helps them pay bills and reduce debt.

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A Georgia basic income program is giving Black women $850 a month. They say it helps them pay bills and reduce debt.
A guaranteed income program in Atlanta gives low-income Black women $850 monthly.Tetra Images/Getty Images
  • An Atlanta area program is giving low-income Black women $850 a month for two years.
  • Participants say it's allowed them to pay their debts and gain financial security.
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A Georgia program providing low-income Black women with monthly payments hopes it will help them escape poverty. The evidence indicates it's working.

The Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund in Atlanta gives young Black women average payments of $850 a month through its In Her Hands program. The program is one of many guaranteed income programs nationwide aimed at helping people afford their basic needs.

The program, which launched in 2022, is providing payments to 650 women over two years. The program started with participants in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was raised and later spoke in support of basic income, according to the GRO Fund.

An initial report on the program's effectiveness found it helped many of its participants decrease their debts, according to nonprofit news site Capital and Main.

According to the outlet, 45% of the program's participants said they used the money to catch up on paying bills. Nearly 30% of the participants surveyed said they now had "rainy day" funds after enrolling in the program, and 27% said they paid off their debts.

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C. Harper, one of the recipients, told Georgia Public Radio that she was struggling to pay for rent when she enrolled in the program in 2022. After joining, she said she found permanent housing for herself and her children and used the money to help get a teaching certificate.

"The end result was I was able to get a better job," Harper told GPR.

GRO Fund Executive Director Hope Wollensack told the outlet she hopes the positive results in "not just in the short term, but in the long term" will be used to inform other initiatives.

Basic income programs for Black women face legal challenges

The In Her Hands program is not the first guaranteed income program targeting Black women.

A San Francisco area program — called the Abundant Birth Project, which provides pregnant Black women with $1,000 monthly payments for a year — received a $5 million grant from the state in December 2022 after showing positive results.

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Research shows that Black women experience the highest infant and maternal mortality rates among any population, in part because of wealth and income disparities, the city said in a statement.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the program helps ease a mother's financial burden so they can prioritize their mental health, which "ultimately impacts the health of their babies and family."

Despite reports of success, basic income programs across the country are often met with resistance from conservatives. Programs like those in Georgia and San Francisco that provide payments specifically to Black women also face legal challenges.

The American Civil Rights Project, a conservative public interest firm, sued the city of San Francisco in November 2023 to stop the Abundant Birth Project. The lawsuit argues the program is discriminatory and uses public money to provide payments on the basis of unlawful classifications, such as race.

The complaint says guaranteed basic income programs are unconstitutional because they are mostly "government-sponsored and publicly funded programs designed to select beneficiaries on a racially exclusionary basis." The lawsuit accuses the program in San Francisco of "picking recipients of public funds based on race," which it says is discriminatory.

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A representative for San Francisco city attorney David Chiu told The Bay Area Reporter that the city denies the programs are unconstitutional or unlawful.

"We look forward to discussing these matters further in court," Chui's office told the outlet.

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