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Guaranteed Income Programs Starting up for Rochester Residents


Rochester is gearing up to launch two innovative programs aimed at providing financial stability to low-income residents. The Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) program and the Bridge Project will offer cash benefits of $500 and $1,000 per month, respectively, providing a lifeline to individuals and pregnant mothers struggling to make ends meet.


The GBI program, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), will grant unconditional $500 monthly payments for a duration of 12 months. However, participation is limited to 351 individuals who meet specific criteria. To qualify, applicants must be 18 years or older, have resided in the City of Rochester for at least a year, have a household income at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and reside in a qualified census tract within the city. Additionally, only one person per household can participate in the program. The application process for qualified residents will open on Thursday, June 22, and close on Thursday, June 29.


Rochester Mayor Malik Evans announced the program and expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "Rochester's GBI program has the potential to create significant opportunities for our residents to not only survive but to thrive. We continue to work towards shifting our city from a poverty mindset to a prosperity mindset, prioritizing the well-being and economic stability of our community. GBI is one more program helping to achieve that goal."

In addition to the GBI program, the Bridge Project, facilitated by the Monarch Foundation, is set to launch in Rochester next month. The initiative aims to support pregnant women by providing a $1,000 monthly cash benefit for 18 months, followed by 12 months of $500 payments, all delivered in biweekly installments.


Participants will have the freedom to spend the funds as they see fit, without any restrictions or requirements.


The Monarch Foundation initiated the Bridge Project in July 2021, starting with a cohort of 100 low-income mothers. Early data reveals promising outcomes, with more than half of the recipients either working or actively seeking employment. Prior to the project, the participants had an average income of $1,200 per month. The foundation's press release highlighted the positive impact on recipients, noting that funds were utilized for essential needs such as childcare and rent. Recipients also demonstrated an increase in savings, signaling improved financial stability.


Assemblywoman Sarah Clark emphasized the effectiveness of guaranteed basic income programs in New York State, highlighting their potential to lift individuals and families out of poverty.


“As the community with the highest concentration of childhood poverty and three of the five highest poverty ZIP Codes in the state, (GBI programs) have the potential to be transformational for our residents, families, and neighborhoods,” she said.


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