A basic income project in Iowa gives low-income residents $500 a month. They say it helps them pay rent and buy food.

Aerial view of the Des Moines, Iowa, Skyline at sunset

Under a basic income program in central Iowa, people spend the $500 monthly payments mainly on food.Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock

  • Iowa recently passed a law banning local governments from offering basic income programs.

  • But one that provides $500 a month to low-income residents says it will continue to use private funds.

  • Most participants said they spent the money on food and housing in the first year.

Conservatives in Iowa voted earlier this year to ban local governments from sponsoring basic income programs. But one program in the middle of the state says it’s seeing successful results — and will continue.

Central Iowa’s “UpLift” program provides up to $500 per month for 110 low-income residents. While the legislation could threaten its future, organizers say it will continue to rely on private financing – for now. They said the program is showing similar results to other basic income programs across the country, with residents spending the money mainly on food and shelter.

Ashley Ezzio, senior project coordinator at the Tom and Ruth Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement, which is conducting the study, told The Des Moines Register that most participants spent the money on essentials.

A study of the program, which launched last May, found that food and groceries made up about 42% of costs in the first year, Ezzio said.

Uplift tracks spending categories and periodically asks participants to complete surveys through the University of Pennsylvania and Des Moines University. About 80% of participants completed the initial survey, Uplift said.

Last month, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill banning state and city governments from offering basic income programs. State Rep. Steve Holthave called for the bans, calling basic income programs “socialism on steroids” and “an attack on American values.”

Guaranteed basic income programs typically offer no-obligation monthly payments between $500 and $1,000 to specific groups, such as new mothers, Black womenor transgenders, all low-income residents. They differ from their idealistic cousin: a universal basic income. UBI, made famous by Andrew Yang during the 2016 presidential election, would provide a monthly payment to all citizens.

UpLift’s findings in Iowa mirror those of basic income programs across the country.

In Austin, a study found that residents of a program who received $1,000 a month for a year spent the no-obligation money mainly on housing and food.

Yet conservatives in Texas also oppose such programs. The state Supreme Court in April temporarily blocked a Houston-area program that gave low-income residents $500 a month after the attorney general called it “unconstitutional.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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