First Steps in Exploring Newark's Universal Basic Income Pilot Program Begin

New details have emerged about Newark's plan to implement a universal basic income pilot program, which were first hinted at in March during Mayor Ras Baraka's state of the city address.

NEWARK, NJ - A new task force has been created that will begin to plan for a universal basic income pilot program in Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka announced. 

Baraka first hinted at the program during his state of the city address in March, and it's still unclear what the program will look like in Newark. Universal basic income is a cash benefit that could come in several different forms, but it's generally a government-funded subsidy that gives residents some type of guaranteed income source. 

“We are receiving technical assistance from the Economic Security Project and the Jain Institute,” said Baraka in a statement. “Together, we are assessing the feasibility of a program in Newark. This is another step in our work to end poverty in Newark, and create a more equitable and empowered city.” 

The Guaranteed Income Task Force includes members from the Newark Community Development Network, Advocates for Children of NJ, the Center for Law, Inequality, and Metropolitan Equity (CLiME), Newark Alliance and the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation.

More than one-third of Newark residents live in poverty, Baraka said. While the mayor has praised new developments rising in the city’s downtown area, he’s also put a focus on making sure long-time residents don't fall victim to gentrification. 

Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has introduced federal laws that would create different forms of universal basic income. 

Booker, a former Newark mayor, has called for "American Opportunity Accounts" to be created for every child born in the United States. The government would deposit up to $2,000 annually into each account, considering their family's income. 

Another bill would guarantee jobs to residents that generally pay at least $15 an hour. 

The task force will convene again in September. It will eventually release a report with findings about a guaranteed income program in Newark, the city said.

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