April 30, 2021, Tacoma, Wash. — Under the leadership of Mayor Victoria Woodards, a founding member of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), and through a partnership with United Way Pierce County, Tacoma has been planning a guaranteed income demonstration that will launch in late Summer 2021.
“Prior to the pandemic, there was already a lack of local affordable housing options and a national chronic shortage of affordable, high-quality childcare. These factors have been further exacerbated over the past year, putting even more residents on the brink of poverty, particularly those of color,” said Mayor Woodards.
Growing Resilience In Tacoma (GRIT) is a first-of-its-kind Guaranteed Income demonstration in Tacoma. Participants will receive $500 a month for 12 months as a supplement to their income and other benefits. Demonstration funding will not utilize local tax dollars but will come from MGI and local contributions. Planning and fundraising are still underway and are being coordinated by a Steering Committee with representatives from the City, United Way of Pierce County, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Sound Outreach, Tacoma Urban League and Tacoma Housing Authority.
“GRIT is a natural evolution of work already being undertaken in our community to dismantle poverty,” noted Dona Ponepinto, President and CEO of United Way of Pierce County. “The Center for Strong Families, a network of Pierce County organizations working together to implement strategies that address persistent poverty, financial instability and low-wages among families, will help identify participants who need a safety net to meet basic needs.”
One hundred participants will be chosen at random from a pool of qualified individuals. Qualified individuals must be Tacoma residents, with a focus on those who are Black, Indigenous and People Of Color; single heads of household; and meet United Way’s ALICE criteria (Asset Limited, Income Constrained while Employed). Focus groups to help further refine participant qualifications and structure participant supports will be held in April and May.
The GRIT demonstration is part of a national movement to advocate for the creation of an income floor for those who need it most, people who are working yet struggling to make ends meet. In addition to demonstrations like GRIT, MGI also advocates for cash-based policies at the federal level. There are currently at least 10 Congressional bills to provide pandemic-related payments to struggling Americans, and more than 125 economists recently demanded national leaders pass another round of $1,200 stimulus checks.
MGI, together with the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, has also established the Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR) to consolidate the key learnings from the pilots taking place in MGI member cities to address knowledge gaps and allow the organization to layer data with anecdotal evidence. CGIR will be supporting Tacoma’s researchers and data analysis team.
The April 29, 2021 press conference announcing the Growing Resilience In Tacoma demonstration is available to view online here: https://youtu.be/OBC5GCBt7pE.
Updates and additional information are available at www.uwpc.org/growing-resilience-tacoma.