How guaranteed income affected a New Jersey city

Research from Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice finds a guaranteed income program in Paterson offers financial relief for many participants and is a blueprint for future policy initiatives.

In a report authored by the Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR) at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), findings from the Paterson Guaranteed Income Pilot Program (GIPP) reveal connections between unconditional cash and recipients’ quality of life, financial well-being, ability to balance their time, and feelings of belonging.

Aerial view of Paterson, New Jersey.
Image: iStock/Ultima_Gaina

Based in Paterson, New Jersey, and organized by Mayor Andre Sayegh and a task force, GIPP provided 110 randomly selected individuals and families with $400 monthly cash payments from July 2021 to June 2022.

Paterson, a former industrial powerhouse, has long been an exemplar city for justice-centered work. In the 1800s, it served as a key stop on the Underground Railroad, and in the 1900s, it was home to the Paterson Silk Strike, which served as a turning point in labor rights history. Marked by rich racial and ethnic diversity, Paterson was one of the earliest cities to experiment with unconditional cash for residents experiencing deep poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The $400 monthly cash allowance, while not a panacea, offered financial relief for many participants and served as a valuable blueprint for future policy initiatives—particularly in a diverse city landlocked by extraordinary wealth and exorbitant housing costs,” write authors Elizabeth DeYoung, Nidhi Tandon, Catarina Neves, Amy Castro, and Stacia West of CGIR.

The findings of the study include an enhanced quality of life; guaranteed income mitigated participants’ household chaos, mental distress, and food insecurity. It reports an improved financial well-being, increased agency over their time, and boosted feelings of social connection, reciprocity, and belonging.

Read more at SP2 News.