For millions of Americans still struggling with their finances after the pandemic, the end of all federal stimulus checks has hit particularly hard. With the economic downturn showing no signs of relenting, it has become doubly tough to survive without the stimulus checks.
2023 has been particularly difficult as the past three years had either the federal government or the state government standing up for Americans. But with inflation a constant worry for low and moderate-income households, some form of support is being considered by several states and cities.
For some residents of Stockton in California, that has been exactly that point. Ever since the pandemic, it has been a constant struggle to overcome the insecurity that has governed the lives of most Americans.
This is what Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton is trying to ensure initially on a smaller scale. Mayor Tubbs has since childhood watched his family and those of his friends struggle with simple everyday expenses. And they received only minimal help from the administration at all levels.
The Mayor realized that even a small guaranteed stimulus check, as little as $6,000 a year, would cover the occasional emergency expenses. It would also stand as a supplement for a minimum wage salary and also eliminate single-handedly most insecurities that govern the life of low-income households.
With backing from the Economic Security Project, a non-profit, the major created a long-term program. He received both guidance and funds from this non-profit. This helped him create a pilot program and initiate stimulus check payments for a handful of residents. It was the first of its kind in the US.
The mayor’s goal was ambitious but simple. He aimed to first go for a demonstration project that would turn out to be a resounding success. That would lay the groundwork for future projects.
At the same time, the proposal for a regular stimulus check would convince politicians of its effectiveness. They would be left with no option other than to seriously consider adopting the scheme of giving residents stimulus checks on a regular basis as a guaranteed basic income. He hoped that in the not-too-distant future, it could even be considered as national policy.
The regular stimulus check given for a period of two years transformed the lives of many individuals and families. Beneficiaries were able to give up small jobs to meet their immediate needs and go for skill-enhancing training. Many women were able to move out of dysfunctional marriages and move into a home of their own.
Residents who benefitted from it say that it had proved to be a stepping stone in their lives. It got them to where they were okay with themselves. The stimulus checks came at the right time for many individuals and families.
The initial pilot program was scheduled to end in the summer of 2020. But the founders managed extra donations and helped people get through the worst period of the COVID-19 pandemic. It helped several families even cope with the expense of coping with cases of the virus.
Guaranteed Stimulus Checks Even Part Of Presidential Campaign In 2020
One of the foremost backers of the idea of a guaranteed stimulus check in the past few years has been Andrew Yang, who ran his presidential campaign with the proposal of a regular stimulus check. He proposed that the government should offer $,000 every month to all Americans.
But his proposal was not original and versions have been around for decades. Many progressive activists and academics have advocated such an idea. The proposals gained additional weight during the pandemic as millions were on the verge of starvation. This happened even as a section of the population continued to grow richer.
The time was just right to try out something radical to get people out of their predicament. Across the country, similar pilot projects have been launched in New Orleans, Denver, and Los Angeles to name a few.
There have also been similar schemes in less progressive cities such as Birmingham in Alabama, Columbia in South Carolina, and Gainesville in Florida. Around fifty places in the country sent out similar universal basic income stimulus checks.
Birmingham paid single mothers a guaranteed income of $375 a month for one year. Around 110 individuals benefitted from the pilot scheme. Cambridge, a city right next to Boston, offered a guaranteed income to 120 residents for 18 months. The monthly stimulus checks were worth $500. Residents of Chelsea in Massachusetts received a monthly stimulus check ranging from $200 to $400 a month. 2,000 residents benefitted from the payments.
A second phase of the program has been launched that will benefit another six to seven hundred participants. The aim of the second round is to help needy residents offset the high cost of food and energy, especially during the winter. Applicants were accepted only this year starting January 6.
In Columbia in South Carolina, a total of 100 low-income fathers received a stimulus check worth $500. In Chicago, a total of 5,000 low-income individuals received a $500 stimulus check every month for a year. This is part of the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot Program. It is the largest guaranteed basic income program in the country.
The Chicago City Council also toyed with the idea of a basic income. It approved a multi-million dollar budget that included hundreds of dollars for 5,000 households in the Windy City.
The program distributed a $500 stimulus check a month to 5,000 low income households for one year. Individuals who earned less than $35,000 a year qualified for the payments. Participants were chosen at random, so a person could not apply for the payment.
The money was sourced from the American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden in March 2021. The passage came a day after Los Angeles announced its program to help thousands of families in the city, its second initiative.
The Los Angeles stimulus check gave $1,000 a month to over 3,200 families living in poverty. This initiative was part of a Basic Income Guaranteed scheme. The payment was given for a year and was the largest pilot program in the US, says Mayor Eric Garcetti.