Basic Income program seeks applicants

HUDSON—An online application to receive $500 a month for five years, with no restrictions on what one does with the money, is available now. The announcement was made by Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson in an online meeting August 14.

To be eligible, one must live in Hudson, be at least 18 years old and have an income less than $35,153 a year. Applications will be accepted until September 20. To access the application online enter

HudsonUP is the name of the monthly income program. For people without computers, “We’ll be looking to set up locations” in the Salvation Army building and elsewhere, said Joan Hunt of Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood. The application form has both an English and a Spanish version; a Bengali version is being prepared.

Susan Danziger, co-founder of the Spark of Hudson project, emphasized that the monthly $500 has “no strings attached.” It could enable an individual to, among other things, start a business, stay home and take care of a sick relative or do volunteer work. The Spark of Hudson describes itself as a “learning and training” center for a variety of topics, ranging from cooking to philosophy.

From the applicant pool, “independent researchers” will select the 25 individuals. Though the selection will have some randomness, it will be weighted to favor both the “disadvantaged” and those “most likely to result in a good outcome,” according to criteria nobody local controls, acknowledged Albert Wenger, co-founder of The Spark of Hudson.

‘We will work with everybody to make sure they don’t lose benefits.’

Albert Wenger, co-founder

The Spark of Hudson

HudsonUP is a pilot program to test Andrew Yang’s Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposal. It will get the money from The Spark of Hudson, Humanity Forward and a third organization whose intended contribution has raised the number of individuals who can receive the money from 20 to 25. Humanity Forward is the organization Mr. Yang founded to promote the goals he advocated in his run for president. No “taxpayer money” will be used said Ms. Danziger.

UBI pilot programs are also starting in some other places, with different places trying different monthly amounts and different durations. Hudson’s program is the first “in a small US city” slated to last as long as five years, said Ethan Dunn, a program director for Humanity Forward.

Somebody asked whether people on public assistance will be eligible for the extra income. “Yes,” responded Mr. Wenger, “and we will work with everybody to make sure they don’t lose benefits.”

Mayor Johnson asked why the monthly amount for Hudson residents is $500. After all, “Yang suggested $1,000,” the mayor said.

Mr. Wenger replied, “We don’t want people kicked out of existing programs. And based on trials, although $500 is small, for recipients it can make a very big difference.”

In response to another question, Mr. Dunn said the income would not be considered taxable.

For an actual UBI to work nationwide, the tax code needs changing, said Mr. Wenger. “The current tax code works against people who are receiving benefits. We give money to banks to give out money. A lot of them give money to people and businesses who need it less.”

“How will the income be tracked or measured? How will you measure if the program is successful?” asked Mayor Johnson.

“We are studying a similar program in California, looking at how the UBI impacts individual lives,” said Ms. Hunt.

Likewise, the program’s funders want other places to study Hudson, said Ms. Danziger.

“But there is no requirement to be part of the research,” said Mr. Wenger.

“How will we protect people from jealousy?” asked the mayor.

Recipients can remain anonymous, Ms. Hunt said. “We will work with people and tell them the advantages and disadvantages of going public.”

“What would you like to see for the future?” asked Mayor Johnson.

“We would like to see UBI in all the US,” Mr. Wenger said.

“The purpose of HudsonUP is to demonstrate how successful UBI can be,” said Mr. Dunn.

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