Starting January 2024, Ann Arbor begins its new pilot program, Guaranteed Income to Grow Ann Arbor (GIG A2). During this two-year program, 100 low-income Ann Arbor residents will be randomly selected and receive $528 monthly.
According to A2gov.org, this program will help lower-income entrepreneurs and study the impacts of financial assistance. Ann Arbor City Council Member Linh Song, who advocated for this program and helped the City Council authorize it in June 2023, said that this will assist with daily struggles such as bills and other daily necessities.
Leading this research program is The University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions team, using money from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to administer $1.6 million to fund the program. In addition, some of the research team will receive funds by the University of Michigan.
Kristin Seefeldt, associate director of Poverty Solutions, will lead the program over a two-year period. Seefeldt says this program is a “reliable monthly payment with no strings attached.”
“Unlike food stamps, where you can only use the money to buy food, with guaranteed income, the recipient can direct payments however they want,” Seefeldt said. “You could pay bills, save or buy birthday presents. It’s supposed to reflect a sense of providing people with dignity and acknowledging their decision making is valid.”
From Oct. 2 to Oct. 13, Ann Arbor residents could sign up for the experimental program, which guaranteed support for those making income equal to or below 225% of the federal poverty line or to Ann Arbor’s median income.
For those looking for calculations, these are the eligibility requirements according to GIGA2.org
- $32,805 for a sole individual
- $44,370 for a two-person household
- $55,935 for a three-person household
Regarding funding, the program was rushed throughout late 2022 and early 2023, as federal funds from the ARPA have to be expended by the end of 2026.
“For applicants, we broadly define entrepreneurs. It could mean someone trying to start a small business, has a small business, does childcare on the side, or drives Ubers,” Seefieldt said. “A lot of stuff counted, even if it was something people only did for a few hours a month.”
According to the city of Ann Arbor this program is designed to assist in the following;
- Improvements in physical and mental health, access to care, and child care access and quality will positively affect participants’ social determinants of health.
- Assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in stabilizing and/or growing their businesses.
- Be a positive contributor to the community’s economic growth.
“We divided our selection by race and education level because we wanted the people selected to reflect the pool of people who applied,” Seefieldt said. “We didn’t want this to be all college-educated white women who just happened to get selected by the luck of the draw.”
As GIG A2 gears up, Seefeldt believes that the success of this program will be determined by multiple indicators.
“I see success very broadly. Are people able to do what they want to do? Are they able to make progress to whatever goals they might have?” Seefeldt said, “We’re measuring changes over time and experiences like housing instability or food insecurity. Success is if we decrease the number of people experiencing those negative outcomes. We’re also going to measure any changes in people’s health or mental health and use some early findings from other pilots that have shown reduced levels of stress for those who get guaranteed income. We’re using survey questions to see if that changes.”
For more information on the program, visit giga2.org for more information on the new pilot program.
Antonio Cooper is a freelance journalist from Detroit, Michigan. His coverage of music festivals and interviews with local celebrities appeared in The E-Current Magazine, The Detroit Metro Times, XXL Magazine, RichMagDigital, The Ann Arbor Observer, and Pop Magazine.