$1,000 monthly payments for mothers: what are the requirements to request it?
The Bridge Project to help fight poverty in New York has entered its second phase providing direct cash payments for three years to low-income new mothers.
Providing people with guaranteed income, no strings attached, to alleviate poverty came to the spotlight in the US with a 2018 experiment in Stockton, California. Since then, dozens of programs have sprung up across the nation, The Bridge Project is one of them helping mothers of newborns in New York City.
In April, The Bridge Project began a two-week window for accepting applications for the second phase of its program. This time five times as many mothers will participate in the guaranteed income project which the organization wants to scale “as an innovative, simple, and empowering solution to poverty and inequality.”
Who is eligible to receive the $1,000 monthly payments?
The Bridge Project is currently targeted at low-income mothers-to-be in New York City. Phase two of the program will expand to three more neighborhoods, East Harlem, Central and South Bronx, joining Inwood, Harlem and Washington Heights. The mothers must be currently pregnant for the first time in order to qualify and have an annual income of less than $52,000. Enrollment for the second phase ended on 13 April.
In the first phase, over half of those recruited were working or seeking a job and had an average monthly income of $1,200 prior to receiving the unconditional stipend.
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The project is funded by a $16.2 million grant from the Monarch Foundation, to measure the effect of regular, direct-cash payments on low-income mothers and their children during the first three years of a newborn’s life.
How do the monthly payments work?
Phase one of The Bridge Project began in July 2021 and recruited 100 expecting mothers or mothers with a baby less than a year old. The chosen candidates were split into two groups, one is receiving $500 per month over the next three years, and the other $1,000.
The second phase will incorporate 500 mothers, only those who are expecting their first child. They will receive $1,000 for the first 18 months of the project and then $500 for the remaining 18 months. Also participating will be a second set of mothers that will receive no stipend to serve as a control group.
All payments will be given on a biweekly basis and over that time in which the mothers are participating they will be surveyed to track their health, physically and mentally, the child’s developmental progress as well as their economic and housing stability. The research will be conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research.
Why are the mothers receiving cash payments?
Some of the mothers in the program receive benefits from other social programs such as TANF, SNAP or WIC, but those government funded programs set restrictions that can limit their effectiveness. Increased income can reduce benefits, and the money received can only be spent on specified products. The Bridge Project gives the example of milk. In New York City’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children mothers can buy whole milk, nonfat milk, and 1% but not 2% milk. “Call us crazy, but we think moms can handle picking out milk without government supervision,” the non-profit states.
Cash gives the recipients flexibility to make their own choices and takes away the “deeply paternalistic approach” that is often taken when trying to deal with poverty and inequality. As for worries that the money won’t be spent smartly, The Bridge Project states that “it’s been shown that less than 1% of money from guaranteed income pilots goes towards tobacco and alcohol.”
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