Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse Joins Mayors for a Guaranteed Income
An effort to realize Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s economic dream, the coalition will commit to advocacy in favor of cash-based policies, and explore guaranteed income programs in cities reaching more than 8 million American residents.
Mayor Alex Morse is joining 15 other mayors from across the country to announce Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition of mayors who will explore cash payment programs in their cities and advocate for guaranteed income programs. The founding mayors of the network include: Michael D. Tubbs from Stockton, CA; Chokwe Antar Lumumba from Jackson, MS; Melvin Carter from St. Paul, MN; Ras J. Baraka from Newark, NJ; Aja Brown from Compton, CA; Eric Garcetti from Los Angeles, CA; Adrian Perkins from Shreveport, LA; Libby Schaaf from Oakland, CA; Victoria R. Woodards from Tacoma, WA; Stephen Benjamin from Columbia, SC and Keisha Lance Bottoms from Atlanta, Georgia.
When Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for the immediate abolition of poverty, he had an economic dream of guaranteed income for all Americans. More than 50 years later and against a similar backdrop of civil unrest, Mayor Morse is joining this coalition of mayors to bring that dream to life.
In the US, wealth and income inequality have reached historic highs. Nearly 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a single $400 emergency, and rising income inequality is compounded by a growing racial wealth gap. The median white worker made 28 percent more than the typical Black worker and 35 percent more than the median Latinx worker in the last quarter of 2019, and the median wealth of white families is more than $100,000 while the median wealth of Black families is approximately $10,000. COVID-19 has further exposed the economic fragility of most American households, and has disproportionately impacted Black and brown people.
In Holyoke and throughout the Pioneer Valley, thousands of residents have lost their jobs and are relying on unemployment insurance to make ends meet. Hundreds have been hit with surprise medical bills, and the exorbitant cost of prescription medication, forced to choose between paying for medication or paying their rent.
A guaranteed income is a monthly cash payment given directly to individuals, empowering recipients to address their most urgent needs and providing a cushion for unpredictable expenses, external shocks, and volatility. It is unconditional, and is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net.
“We are in the middle of the greatest economic and technological transformation in the history of our country, yet millions of families continue to be left behind by an antiquated and unjust economic system. A guaranteed income is critical for combating poverty and is a building block for stronger communities, said Mayor Morse. “I’m proud to be among a leading group of Mayors across the country advocating for, and implementing, guaranteed income pilots, and I look forward to working with the organization on piloting a Guaranteed Income in Holyoke.”
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income is founded in partnership with the Economic Security Project, and recently received $3m in initial funding from Jack Dorsey, Founder and CEO of Twitter. The coalition is also announcing a new partnership with What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative, to elevate lessons learned and expand best practices to additional cities across the country.
A resolution in support of guaranteed income was just approved by the United States Conference of Mayors. The resolution calls for the advancement of the following principles:
Advocate for a guaranteed income at the local, state, and federal level.
Invest in narrative change efforts to highlight the lived experiences of economic insecurity.
Invite all cities to join this effort, and provide technical assistance and funding support for new pilots.
The USCM resolution (full text linked here), which was adopted on June 30 at the organization’s 88th annual meeting in Washington, D.C., encourages guaranteed income as a solution to economic insecurity, inequality, and poverty. A guaranteed income is a monthly cash payment given directly to individuals, empowering recipients to address their most urgent needs and providing a cushion for unpredictable expenses, external shocks, and volatility. It is unconditional, and is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net.
To learn more about Mayors for a Guaranteed Income visit www.mayorsforagi.org.