HUDSON–Twenty Hudson residents are to receive $500 a month for five years as part of a pilot program to test and develop Andrew Yang’s proposal for a universal basic income (UBI). “There will be no limits on how the participants spend the money,” according to the website of the pilot program, HudsonUP. The program was announced May 11.
HudsonUP was created through the collaboration of two organizations: Humanity Forward, which Mr. Yang founded to promote the goals he advocated in his campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, and The Spark of Hudson, which describes itself as “a learning and training center dedicated to education.” The two organizations will each contribute half of the $600,000 that HudsonUP will pay its recipients over the five years. A monthly UBI for all American adults is one of Mr. Yang’s goals.
Other places with UBI pilot programs include Stockton, California, where 125 people are slated to receive $500 a month for 18 months.
In Hudson, “the initiative is designed in collaboration with the community,” says the HudsonUP website.
The selection criteria for the people who will receive the money are “still being decided” by a steering committee, said Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson on May 13. “There will be an application process,” the mayor said, and from those who apply for the program and meet its criteria, the lucky 20 will be “randomly selected.”
“We want to get the money to people as soon as possible,” Mayor Johnson said. There are many loose ends to tie up, but Mr. Johnson envisions it happening this year.
Once someone is selected for the program, Mr. Johnson said, the requirements, if any, to keep receiving the money every month are still being worked out.
Those selected to receive the money will have to attend the initial “kickoff meetings and… provide up-to-date contact information,” according to the HudsonUP website. But “all other aspects of the program are on a voluntary basis.”
The HudsonUP website says that the people receiving its money “will have access to program staff and will be offered a wide range of learning opportunities, including financial literacy and life skills. Participation will be on a voluntary basis.”
“Participants will be known only to each other, the project staff, (and as necessary, to government agencies),” the website says, adding, “Participants will be asked to refrain from revealing the identity of their cohorts.”
Mr. Johnson said the project will need research, including oral histories of people who receive the money.
‘This pilot will give a glimpse of hope to our constituents.’
Mayor Kamal Johnson
City of Hudson
The sum of $500 a month is about 80% of what one would receive working 20 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. It is about 46% of what one would receive working the same hours and weeks at the New York State minimum wage of $12.50 an hour.
A HudsonUP press release dated May 11 said that Hudson’s demographics–a diverse population of about 6,000, a median income of $35,439, and a poverty rate of 19.2%–make it “an ideal host city for a UBI pilot program.”
The May 11 press quotes Joan Hunt, executive director of Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, an organization that supports children and families, saying, “UBI provides unique opportunities for families and communities to begin dismantling the intergenerational cycle of poverty. We look forward to continuing our involvement with this exciting and innovative project.”
“In light of the current on-going crisis, this pilot will give a glimpse of hope to our constituents, many of whom are facing various financial burdens,” Mr. Johnson said. “We welcome out-of-the-box and innovative ideas that can better our community. This pilot will provide a cushion for families, and this support could be life-changing.”
“I’m excited that this is happening in our community,” Mr. Johnson added on May 13. He called the project “an unprecedented initiative” and expressed the hope that people would get “a chance to advance.”
The mayor the program would bring greater visibility to the city and help small businesses here.
Mr. Yang referred to Hudson in the release, saying “UBI allows you to begin making meaningful long-term plans. It allows one to think beyond next month’s bills. Through the HudsonUP project, we’re going to see families benefit enormously from receiving $500 a month for five years.”
“UBI gives freedom–freedom to be entrepreneurs, to run for office, to stay home with kids, to take care of sick parents, to leave abusive relationships, and to help our community in times of crisis,” said Susan Danziger who, with Albert Wenger, founded The Spark of Hudson. Other projects that have received support from The Spark of Hudson include Feed Hudson, Feed Columbia Memorial Hospital and a Community Wellness Fund.
Humanity Forward calls UBI one of its core ideas; others include “human-centered capitalism and data as a property right.”