After federal stimulus checks started to run dry, several states took the matter in their own hand, such as California’s Golden State Stimulus programs. Now, one U.S. city, Ann Arbor, Michigan, is considering similar plans. If approved, the Ann Arbor coronavirus stimulus checks won’t be a one-time affair, rather the city plans to send a monthly payment for as long as three years.
Ann Arbor got over $24 million from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which was passed earlier this year. Now, this Michigan city is evaluating a number of options to spend this money. The money needs to be spent by 2026.
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One popular option it is considering is a universal basic income program. Under this program, the city would select 100 families on the basis of their financial needs. These families would get $500 every month for three years. Since this would be a pilot program, the city will work with researchers to study the impact of the program.
Council Member Linh Song, in a tweet, said that she has been demanding a universal income program for the past six months.
“After meeting with BIPOC communities and nonprofits, it’s clear pandemic recovery needs to be centered on racial justice and equity,” she said, adding that, “It’s happening.”
Other Options That The City Is Evaluating
The Ann Arbor coronavirus stimulus checks program appears similar to the one from Stockton, California. Stockton gave $500 checks to 125 mostly low-income area residents. As per a report from the Los Angeles Times, the program worked well and resulted in “enhanced well-being.”
Further, the report noted that the recipients were also able to get a full-time job twice as fast as the control group. Chicago is also planning to come up with a similar program.
Despite the success of the Stockton program, concerns are being raised over the objective of the Ann Arbor program. One of the concerns is that giving money regularly to people could disincentives them to work.
Amid such concerns, if Ann Arbor’s program succeeds, it would give advocates one solid reason to push for a universal basic income. However, it isn’t certain if Ann Arbor will move ahead with its program to give stimulus checks.
There are reports that the city is also considering spending $1 million on social service programs. Another option it is considering is using $3.5 million to buy properties for affordable housing and spending $2 million on community policing. The city could also spend it on city facilities, such as a new bikeway downtown.
The city will take input from the public in selecting the initiatives that they would be funding, but the final decision will be from the City Council.