September 8, 2021

City Council Considers Assured Cash Experiment Initiative

The Pittsburgh City Council will consider an Assured Cash Experiment initiative that seeks to combat poverty and inequality through unrestricted monthly cash transfers.

Inequality in Pittsburgh

According to a 2019 Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race report, Black women and children in Pittsburgh are more likely to live in poverty than in comparable cities. Pittsburgh’s Black women are five times as likely (and twice as likely as white women) to live in poverty.

In response to this, the Office of Mayor Peduto designed a guaranteed basic income policy to address the poverty inequitably faced by Black women in Pittsburgh communities.

What is the Assured Cash Experiment Initiative?

Assured Cash Experiment PGH (AcePGH) is a guaranteed basic income pilot that seeks to combat poverty and inequity in the City of Pittsburgh. The initiative would provide an unrestricted $500 monthly cash transfer to 200 people in the city. 100 of those participants will be Black women.

How would participants be selected?

The 200 participants must be 18 or older and will be recruited in two groups:

    • 100 Black women who live in the City of Pittsburgh and earn at or below 50% of the area median income who participate in Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Centers, an initiative of Mayor Peduto’s Office of Equity.
    • 100 City of Pittsburgh residents randomly selected from five disadvantaged zip codes citywide.

What will participants receive?

Participants would receive a monthly payment of $500 on a debit card to spend on what they or their families need for 24 months. Findings from other pilots show participants most frequently use cash to meet their basic needs like food, merchandise/wholesale, and utilities.

How would the program be funded?

The City of Pittsburgh will join cities nationwide in utilizing relief funds from the American Rescue Plan to fund part of the program through OnePGH, a nonprofit organization that is supported by public and private investment to allow for the collaboration of local government, business, philanthropy, and nonprofits to improve the lives of all Pittsburghers.

The program will also be funded through grants from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and MGI.  See how other cities are defining and funding their pilot programs.

Guaranteed Basic Income in History

Guaranteed basic income was championed by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King who said that poverty could be eradicated by providing every American a direct, guaranteed middle-class income. He argued that other programs to address poverty were less effective because, as he wrote, “they are indirect.” He continued, “Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.”

Learn More

To learn more, read the full press release. For more news, visit our news page.