Special Report

26 US Cities With Guaranteed Income Programs

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The idea of basic universal income – where the government pays each citizen a certain amount at a regular interval – has been around for decades, but picked up steam during the pandemic. Quite frankly, it sounds enticing; who wouldn’t want some regular extra cash, no strings attached? But while for most people nationwide, such a guaranteed payment would mean just some extra spending money, for others it can mean the difference between being able to buy diapers, pay for utilities, and put food on the table – or not.

Right now, there are over 30 guaranteed income pilot programs across the United States, according to the Guaranteed Income Pilots Dashboard, with a total of more than 8,000 participants. These programs mostly target those with greatest need – those living at or near the poverty line, often with children. 

For example, one program in Atlanta pays 275 participants who have an income of no more than 200% of the federal poverty line $500 once a month for about a year. Another in Los Angeles pays $1,000 a month for a year to about 3,200 residents who are either pregnant or with at least one dependent child who have income at or below the federal poverty line. (Here are 25 facts of life the federal poverty rate completely ignores.)

While opponents of such programs often contend guaranteed income may tempt people not to work, the results from the pilot programs tell a different story. 

Participants range from struggling working parents using the cash payment to buy food, for transportation, to buy their kids necessary clothes, or to put them in sports programs. Others use the money to complete education and find jobs and get out of financial distress. Mostly, participants describe the guaranteed cash payments as simply allowing them to breathe. (Also see 50 cities with huge populations living on food stamps.)

To find guaranteed income programs across the country, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed The Guaranteed Income Pilots Dashboard

Click here to see a detailed methodology.
Click here to see the 26 US cities with guaranteed income programs.

Unlike most guaranteed income programs, which mostly target those most in need, one universal basic income program that has been going for over 40 years is the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, which provides each state resident with an annual dividend funded by oil revenues. The amount varies annually, and in September 2022, each resident received a check for $2,622, the largest amount yet. 

While some residents have used this cash windfall to buy TVs and go on vacation, the money is desperately needed in rural Alaska, where the costs of living, especially fuel and food, are enormous. A 2016 study by the University of Alaska found the PFD has lifted 15,000 to 25,000 Alaskans out of poverty annually, depending on the size of the dividend and the state of the economy that year.

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Atlanta, Georgia
> No. of participants: 275
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $12,000; city: $69,164
> Program dates: January 2022-May 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 492,204

Eligibility: 18 years old, Atlanta city residents, and have an income of 200% or less than the federal poverty line

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Baltimore, Maryland
> No. of participants: 200
> Amount of guaranteed income: $1,000 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $7,350; city: $81,846
> Program dates: August 2022-July 2024
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 850,702

Eligibility: 18-24 years old, Baltimore city residents, biological or adoptive parents, guardians, or have full or partial care taking responsibilities, and have an income at or below 300% of the federal poverty line, based on household size

Birmingham, Alabama
> No. of participants: 110
> Amount of guaranteed income: $375 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $12,300; city: $39,403
> Program dates: March 2022-February 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 202,234

Eligibility: 18 years or older, female identifying as single head of a family with children in the household under 18 years of age

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Cambridge, Massachusetts
> No. of participants: 130
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $18,968; city: $112,565
> Program dates: September 2021-February 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 116,892

Eligibility: Single (unmarried) caregiver of at least one child under the age of 18, resident in Cambridge, with an income below 80% of the area median income

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Columbia, South Carolina
> No. of participants: 100
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $14,250; city: $48,791
> Program dates: September 2021-August 2022
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 137,276

Eligibility: Fathers residing in Columbia and currently or recently enrolled in a program with the Midland Fathers Coalition

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Durham, North Carolina
> No. of participants: 109
> Amount of guaranteed income: $600 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $8,769; city: $67,000
> Program dates: March 2022-February 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 320,146

Eligibility: Released from prison (North Carolina State prison, a prison in another state, or federal prison) within the last 60 months (five years) prior to application, returning to a Durham address (city or County), and with an income below 60% 2021 Durham-Chapel Hill Area Median Income

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Gainesville, Florida
> No. of participants: 115
> Amount of guaranteed income: $1,000 1st month, then $600 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $20,372; city: $57,258
> Program dates: January 2022-February 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 41,730

Eligibility: Alachua County residents who are within six months of their release from federal/Florida state prison, released from jail with a felony or beginning felony probation

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Ithaca, New York
> No. of participants: 110
> Amount of guaranteed income: $450 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $15,702; city: $40,973
> Program dates: June 2022-May 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 31,819

Eligibility: Primary unpaid caregivers to children and aging or disabled adults that reside in Ithaca and have an income at or below 80% Area Median Income

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Los Angeles County, California
> No. of participants: 1,000
> Amount of guaranteed income: $1,000 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $10,875; city: $76,367
> Program dates: June 2022-August 2025
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 10,019,635

Eligibility: Over the age of 18; resident in a neighborhood identified as being at or below L.A. County’s Area Median Income; in a single person household that falls at or below AMI or in a household with two or more persons that falls at or below 120% AMI; have been financially negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; and not concurrently participating in another guaranteed income program.

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Los Angeles, California
> No. of participants: 3,202
> Amount of guaranteed income: $1,000 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $11,097; city: $69,778
> Program dates: January 2022-March 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 3,902,440

Eligibility: Resident of Los Angeles, 18 years or older, with at least one dependent child (younger than 18 or a student younger than 24) or are pregnant, with income at or below the federal poverty level

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Louisville, Kentucky
> No. of participants: 150
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $8,544; city: $58,357
> Program dates: April 2022-March 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 630,260

Eligibility: 18-24 years old and residing in the following neighborhoods: California, Russell, and Smoketown

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Madison, Wisconsin
> No. of participants: 155
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $14,378; city: $70,466
> Program dates: September 2022-August 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 265,447

Eligibility: Madison residents 18 and older with a household income less than 200% of the federal poverty line, and with a child under 18 years old living at home

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New Orleans, Louisiana
> No. of participants: 125
> Amount of guaranteed income: $350 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $15,702; city: $45,594
> Program dates: April 2022-March 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 383,974

Eligibility: 16-24 years old and disconnected from work and school

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New York City, New York
> No. of participants: 600
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500-$1,000 every two weeks
> Median household income: Participants: $12,654; city: $93,956
> Program dates: June 2021-June 2025
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 1,669,127

Eligibility: Have at least one child up to 1 year old or currently pregnant, live in an eligible zip code, and have an annual household income under $52,000. No SSN or ITIN required

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Newark, New Jersey
> No. of participants: 400
> Amount of guaranteed income: Cohort 1: $500 2x monthly; Cohort 2: $3,000 2x annually
> Median household income: Participants: $8,749; city: $41,335
> Program dates: October 2021-September 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 306,247

Eligibility: 18 years old and above, reside in Newark, income below 200% of the federal poverty level, and impacted by COVID-19

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Oakland, California
> No. of participants: 600
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $11,700; city: $85,628
> Program dates: July 2021-June 2024
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 437,548

Eligibility: Cohort 1: Residents in a one square mile area of East Oakland with income below 50% of the Area Median Income and at least one child under 18. Cohort 2: Oakland households living below 138% of the federal poverty line with at least one child under 18

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Paterson, New Jersey
> No. of participants: 110
> Amount of guaranteed income: $400 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $11,475; city: $48,540
> Program dates: July 2021-June 2022
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 157,927

Eligibility: Resident of Paterson 18 years or older, with income of $30,000 or less for individuals and $88,000 or less for the family

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Providence, Rhode Island
> No. of participants: 110
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $10,266; city: $65,797
> Program dates: November 2021-April 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 656,672

Eligibility: Providence resident, 18 years or older, with income below 200% of the federal poverty level

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Richmond, Virginia
> No. of participants: 64
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 Monthly
> Median household income: Participants: N/A; city: $57,697
> Program dates: October 2020-May 2024
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 8,902

Eligibility: Currently reside in the city of Richmond; employed and earning over $12.71 per hour (the full-time wage federal benefits threshold); have children under the age of 18 living in the household; and not receiving federal benefits, including housing vouchers or assistance

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San Diego, California
> No. of participants: 150
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $20,576; city: $88,240
> Program dates: March 2022-February 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 3,296,317

Eligibility: 18 years old or older, with a child who is 12 yrs old or under in the household, and living within the zip codes 92114 (Encanto/San Diego), 92139 (Paradise Hills/San Diego), 91950 (National city), or 92173 (San Ysidro)

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
> No. of participants: 100
> Amount of guaranteed income: $400 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $17,664; city: $64,423
> Program dates: October 2021-September 2022
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 153,632

Eligibility: Students from the Expanding Opportunities for Young Families program, age 30 or under, who are the primary caretaker to at least one child (under 18), have an income of less than 200% of the federal poverty line, and are enrolled in a degree or certificate program (or have taken at least one class prior to Fall 2021) at Santa Fe Community College

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Shreveport, Louisiana
> No. of participants: 110
> Amount of guaranteed income: $660 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $9,990; city: $41,782
> Program dates: March 2022-February 2023
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 189,374

Eligibility: Single parent, 18 years or older, with school age children, resident in Shreveport, whose income is at or below 120% of the federal poverty line

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St. Paul, Minnesota – PPP program
> No. of participants: 150
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $12,000; city: $63,483
> Program dates: October 2020-March 2022
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 309,751

Eligibility: St. Paul resident with a child with a CollegeBound Saint Paul college savings account and impacted financially by COVID-19

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St. Paul, Minnesota – Springboard program
> No. of participants: 25
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $12,000; city: $63,483
> Program dates: April 2021-October 2022
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 309,751

Eligibility: Artists in targeted neighborhoods who received support from Coronavirus Personal Emergency Relief Fund

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Tacoma, Washington
> No. of participants: 110
> Amount of guaranteed income: $500 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $26,550; city: $69,956
> Program dates: December 2021-November 2022
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 217,332

Eligibility: At least 18 years of age; reside in Tacoma neighborhoods of Eastside, Hilltop, South Tacoma, or the South End; single income household with children living in the home up to age 17 or children with disabilities up to age 21; with annual income between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level

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West Hollywood, California
> No. of participants: 25
> Amount of guaranteed income: $1,000 monthly
> Median household income: Participants: $18,168; city: $78,719
> Program dates: August 2022-January 2024
> Population (5-yr 2021 estimates): 35,678

Eligibility: Adults over 50 years of age, housed or unhoused resident of West Hollywood, and living on $41,400 or less

Methodology

To find guaranteed income programs across the country, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed The Guaranteed Income Pilots Dashboard. These programs provide a guaranteed cash payment on a regular basis to participants. Data includes the number of participants in each program, the payment and payment frequency, the program duration, and the median household income among participants, as well as the eligibility criteria. 

City population and median household data for the city as a whole is from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimates for 2021. The exception is population and income for Louisville, Kentucky, which is for Louisville/Jefferson County and is as of April 1, 2020.

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