Story at a glance
- The Bridge Project is an initiative that’s sending 100 mothers living in New York City monthly payments that range from $500 up to $1,000.
- It’s an effort to test how guaranteed income can uplift families and help children during their early childhood years.
- Roughly half of the project’s recipients are Black and half are Hispanic, with about 20 percent undocumented.
A group of mothers in New York City are receiving up to $1,000 a month thanks to a new guaranteed income program that’s looking to test how a small infusion of cash has the potential to cure poverty.
The Bridge Project is an organization that launched in June 2021 with the intent to support low-income mothers in New York City during the first 1,000 days of their children’s lives through a biweekly cash infusion. The project currently supports 100 families, half of whom get $500 per month and the other half $1,000 for the next three years.
For now the project is focusing on mothers living in the Inwood/Washington Heights and Harlem neighborhoods, but it intends to expand support to more neighborhoods and boroughs throughout New York City.
Along with receiving financial support, mothers will be surveyed to monitor their families’ economic and housing stability, physical and mental health, and their children’s development progress.
That speaks in part to the premise of the project, which will also test the idea that money invested in a child during their first few years carries the strongest potential for long-term academic success, adult earnings and health. Some research, like the Heckman Equation, has suggested that the most economically efficient time to develop important skills is during the very early years of childhood.
“You’re talking about giving somebody money and letting them apply it to the highest-need area of life: keeping the heat on, contacting family in Venezuela, taking an Uber to the hospital, getting an unlimited MetroCard,” said Megha Agarwal, The Bridge Project executive director, to The New York Times.
Families participating in the Bridge Project have an average household income of $14,500, below the federal poverty line, according to the Times. Roughly half are Black and half are Hispanic, and about 20 percent of the mothers are undocumented.
More than 70 percent of the mothers in the project had less than $100 in savings.
According to the latest Census Bureau data from 2021, just under 18 percent of New York City residents live in poverty. The New York City Department of Health estimates that between 2016 and 2018, about 18 percent of the city’s Black population lived below the poverty line, while 23 percent of the Hispanic population did, too.
The Bridge Project joins a growing number of guaranteed income programs popping up around the country, like In Her Hands that launched in Atlanta. That program will provide 650 Black women monthly payments of $850 for two years.
The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) was the country’s first mayor-led guaranteed income initiative launched in California in 2020. That gave 125 Stockton residents $500 for two years, and after its first year the results were promising. SEED found that the guaranteed income reduced recipients’ income volatility, enabled them to find full-time jobs and allowed them to create new goals for themselves.
The guaranteed income efforts happening across the country come amidst the federal government’s recent action to implement the advanced child tax credit program, which ended last month. The federal program provided 61 million children in the U.S. with payments worth up to $250 per child between the ages of 6 to 17 and up to $300 per child under the age of 6. The last payment of the advanced child tax credit program went out in December, and it’s expected to increase January’s monthly child poverty rate up to 17.1 percent.
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