Individuals and families are often thrown into crisis because of poverty—the inability to meet basic needs of living. Significant resources are invested in addressing low-income households’ essential needs (food, housing, childcare, medical care, etc.) to fill gaps where people fall short of being able to provide for themselves. These gap-filling services offered by public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit organizations, while important, are temporary solutions to address the issue of perpetual crisis.
Communities across the country are currently implementing basic income projects to evaluate how low-income individuals’ well-being improves when they no longer experience stressors associated with poverty. Early project findings show positive participant outcomes including:
Addressing the root cause of crisis—poverty—enables a community to move from temporary solutions to ensuring residents can attain a consistent level of existence, foster healthy family environments, and support a thriving local workforce.
This is especially important for families. Research shows that when caregivers struggle to access what their family needs, children are more likely to grow up in stressful environments. Being able to meet essential needs allows caregivers to make choices that strength their family and foster their children’s healthy development—reducing the likelihood of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that can disrupt lifelong well-being.
Improved individual health and well-being also supports the economic health of the community by improving the ways in which community members show up in the workforce due to the reduced burdens brought on by the stressors associated with poverty.
The Center for Guaranteed Income Research at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice has been researching, evaluating, and changing narratives around the basic income approach as a more effective and efficient poverty-reduction tool.
Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, in collaboration with a group of local funders, academic institutions and non-profit organizations, is supporting the Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot Project to implement in our community. More information on the pilot will be available in fall 2022.
The following resources and articles highlight basic income (or guaranteed income) projects and research: