How will My Personal Data Be Used?
Some of you have had questions and concerns about the nature of the researchers’ questionnaire and how personal data will be used in the study. Many of the questions, which have been fully vetted and in use for decades in separate social science research projects across the world, are used to understand the emotional state of people who might not feel as seen, heard or appreciated by their society. Answering those questions might be an upsetting reminder of that.
The researchers ask about those feelings only because we care and want to understand our city’s caregivers and what they face. At no point will applications be viewable to anyone in our community, nor will your answers be attributable to you or your family. This is your private life and information, and it will be kept that way. Penn’s researchers are interested only in how our city’s caregivers are doing as a whole and how IGI might affect their overall survey responses.
Ultimately, we and the researchers are confident that the anonymous data will help you, your families and your neighbors through well-studied and well-designed guaranteed income programs that do what we need them to do: have measurable and predictable results on our financial and emotional lives. After all, if these programs don’t help people, what’s the point?
Just as a reminder, IGI will direct privately-funded monthly cash payments to 110 randomly selected unpaid caregivers and their families in order to strengthen the City of Ithaca and supplement the existing social safety net. Those not randomly selected for the cash assurance payments can remain in the research pilot’s control group, even getting paid for their time.
If people have questions about the application process or need technical help, they can dial 211 (or 1.877.211.8667) weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. 2-1-1 also has the ability to text or do an online chat.
The Basics on IGI
What Will Ithaca Guaranteed Income Do?
IGI will direct privately-funded monthly cash payments to 110 randomly selected unpaid caregivers and their families in order to strengthen the City of Ithaca and supplement the existing social safety net. This can be a critical tool for improving racial and gender equity as well as strengthening relief and bolstering resilience amid COVID-19. Those not randomly selected for the cash assurance payments can remain in the research pilot’s control group, even getting paid for their time.
We’re in the midst of another Great Depression, which necessitates bold, New Deal-type investments in our people. Even before COVID-19 hit, wealth and income inequality were at historic highs. People who were working two and three jobs couldn’t afford basic necessities. Nearly 40% of Americans could not afford a $400 emergency.
Cash is the currency of urgency, and guaranteed income works more effectively when it’s unconditional, direct and simple. Research shows us that recipients of such programs overwhelmingly use the money on their basic needs: housing, utilities, food, unexpected medical costs or other financial emergencies. The pandemic has shown us we should not be putting up barriers to desperately-needed aid. We believe people can be trusted to make their own financial choices, which supports the ideals of freedom and dignity that our country is founded upon.
Won’t “free money” encourage people not to work?
Research on several similar initiatives over decades has shown no negative effect on the labor market.
♦ In Stockton, Calif., recipients actually found more work.
♦ In Alaska, where they’ve had a guaranteed income for nearly 40 years,
cash did not stop people from working.
Most proposals for a guaranteed income are rather modest. Would you quit your job for $5,400 a year?
Who qualifies as an unpaid caregiver?
We are defining a caregiver broadly to mean adults who spend significant unpaid time caring for an aging or disabled adult or a child. This could be either in or out of their home. It could include people caring for their parents or even parents caring for their child. It can include partners and stretch beyond families to include guardians, neighbors, friends, and much, much more. We think if you’re pitching in and freely offering significant time as a caregiver, you probably know it, and we encourage you to apply.
Must I live in the City of Ithaca?
Yes. This research program is coordinated with Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, and you must live in the City of Ithaca at the time of your application. Unfortunately, town residents do not qualify, nor do longtime city residents who have moved.
What if my circumstances change?
Life happens. Once you are in the program, if you move out of the city or your role as a caregiver changes, you will not be removed from the program. Similarly, if your income level grows, congratulations. You are still welcome in IGI.
Are there income requirements?
Yes, the program takes into consideration your 2021 income and the number of people in your family. Income must be below 80% of the area’s median income (AMI). This sounds complicated, but simply find your family’s size on the chart below and determine whether your 2021 income falls below that amount. See chart below.
How will payments work?
These unconditional cash payments, which are privately funded, are made directly to the participants with no strings attached. The cash can be spent as they see fit. Payments to accepted individuals will start in January or February.
Could these payments affect my existing benefits?
Yes, potentially. We have a customized benefits calculator, an optional tool created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, to calculate IGI’s potential effect on some existing benefits. Learn more about the bank and the uses of this tool for visualizing how this pilot program could affect your public benefits.