How to apply, what you need to know

Louisville is accepting applications for a pilot program that will give a group of young adults $500 a month for one year.

The pilot project is modeled after similar guaranteed income programs that have sprung up in cities across the country in recent years.

It was developed by Louisville Metro Government, Metro United Way, and Russell: A Place of Promise, in partnership with Mayors For Guaranteed Income.

Here’s what you need to know about guaranteed income and how the Louisville pilot project works.

What is guaranteed income?

Guaranteed income is a monthly cash payment paid directly to individuals, with no work requirement or direction on how it can be spent.

The payments provide flexibility, allowing recipients to spend the money on whatever they need, such as rent, childcare, transportation, or food.

The money can also cover gaps left by other social safety net programs, according to Mayors For A Guaranteed Income, a network created in 2021 that provides financial and technical support for pilot programs.

What is the difference between guaranteed income and universal basic income?

Guaranteed Income and Universal Basic Income are similar but not identical.

Both types of programs distribute recurring cash payments to residents. But while RUB is equally accessible to everyone, Guaranteed Income targets those most facing economic barriers in an effort to lift them out of poverty.

Who is eligible for the Louisville Guaranteed Income Program?

YALift! – Young Adult Louisville Income For Transformation – is a one-year pilot program that will give $500 per month to up to 150 young adults, ages 18-24.

Applicants must live in one of three neighborhoods: California, Russell, or Smoketown.

The goal of the program is to make participants financially stable so they can pursue education, new careers or other opportunities, according to a Metro United Way fact sheet.

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Applicants will be randomly selected for the pilot project. Those who are not selected will be invited to join a control group, allowing the agencies distributing the money to measure the success of the program.

How will the program be funded?

Monthly payments will total $900,000 for 150 participants. Half of the funding will come from Metro United Way, the other half from Mayors For A Guaranteed Income.

The Louisville Metropolitan Government will invest $100,000 in administrative costs for the program.

How is YALift different from other programs?

Guaranteed income programs take a variety of forms, though most focus on helping people with low incomes and barriers to getting rich.

One of the first programs to gain national attention was the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration in Stockton, California, launched in 2019 by then-Mayor Michael Tubbs.

This program provided $500 per month to 125 randomly selected residents for 24 months.

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Other programs since created include:

People’s Prosperity Pilot Project in St. Paul, Minnesota, which focused on residents with babies, offering both guaranteed income and funds for a college savings account.

Richmond Resilience Initiative in Richmond, Virginia, which provided income for 55 working families who earn too much to qualify for federal assistance but not enough to cover all living expenses.

Step Up Durham in Durahm, North Carolina, which helped 115 formerly incarcerated people for one year.

Do guaranteed income programs work?

Many programs are still in their pilot phases, but an analysis by SEED in Stockton found that the payments reduced income volatility, allowed participants to find full-time employment and increased their perceived well-being.

The analysis, conducted by a team of independent researchers, showed that beneficiaries consistently spent program money on food, utilities and transportation, among other necessary expenses. Less than 1% of purchases tracked were for tobacco and alcohol, according to the report.

How can I apply?

Apply for YALift at metrounitedway.org/program/yalift through February 21.

Contact journalist Bailey Loosemore at [email protected], 502-582-4646 or on Twitter @bloosemore.