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‘Universal Basic Income’ Milwaukee Program: Alderwoman Pushing Idea

universal basic income milwaukee
Chantia Lewis is proposing universal basic income in Milwaukee


Universal basic income, Milwaukee plan? A press release from Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis indicates she is continuing to push the idea of “universal basic income” in Milwaukee – and city officials will hear about a similar program that exists in Stockton, California. In Stockton, people are given $500 monthly checks in the program.

Universal basic income, which Lewis has been pushing for more than a year, has not passed yet in Milwaukee, but the new press release indicates the idea is far from dead.

What is universal basic income? According to investopedia, “Universal basic income (UBI) is a government program in which every adult citizen receives a set amount of money on a regular basis. The goals of a basic income system are to alleviate poverty and replace other need-based social programs that potentially require greater bureaucratic involvement.”

Ald. Lewis previously told WUWM of her idea for universal basic income in Milwaukee:

“We would select, randomly select, a total of 50 households throughout the city. So, this is 25 lower income folks and then 25 working family households. We would provide them with a monthly stipend for 18 months. So, it’s a $500 18-month program where they would be handheld and walked through because the goal is to bring them into a more comfortable space that they can provide for their families a lot more.”

A year ago, a majority of aldermen indicated support for the concept, WUWM reported. They asked the Department of Administration to develop a framework for the idea; the Lewis plan would be funded with private donations and involve 50 families living in poverty stricken zip codes.

According to WPR, the Stockton program has “no work requirements and no restrictions on how the money can be spent.”

Here’s the Lewis press release referring to universal basic income Milwaukee from March 29, 2021:

Director of Stockton (CA) UBI program will appear during Community and Economic Development Committee meeting

This week’s meeting of the Community and Economic Development Committee (Wednesday, March 31) will feature the Executive Director of the Stockton (CA) Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) program — the country’s first guaranteed income initiative.

The pilot program gave eligible low-income and working-class Stockton residents an unconditional $500-a-month payment for 18 months, which – according to preliminary reports – was used by a majority of participants on necessities. Alderwoman Chantia Lewis has sponsored legislation to implement a similar pilot Universal Basic Income program in Milwaukee, as she has noted that the city suffers from many of the same racial and economic disparities that Stockton aimed to overcome through its program.

“Universal Basic Income could significantly improve the lives of Milwaukee residents who live at or below the poverty line, and including those who are working multiple jobs but struggling to stay afloat,” Alderwoman Lewis said. “We must continue to be innovative and creative when it comes to how we can best support our residents and bolster our city as a whole.”

The Stockton official in charge of its Universal Basic Income (UBI) program will appear at Wednesday’s committee meeting to discuss his program and answer questions. Alderwoman Lewis said the community is encouraged to learn more about UBI programs and how they can assist and support struggling individuals and families.

Universal Basic Income Milwaukee Meeting

WRN has learned that the Community and Economic Development Committee meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and will be televised live on the City Channel (channel 25 on Spectrum Cable and channel 99 on AT&T U-Verse in the City of Milwaukee) and via streaming video on the city website at city.milwaukee.gov/Channel25.

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