Public Services

First payments in PVD Guaranteed Income Program already effecting positive change

“I’m sure I’m not the only one who works in health care who has the intentions of helping people,” said Ms. Perry. “We all know how moms are. If we can get us all up on our feet, a little bit better, we would be in a really great place despite all of the coronavirus.”

Rhode Island News: First payments in PVD Guaranteed Income Program already effecting positive change

December 1, 2021, 12:28 pm

By Steve Ahlquist

“It’s tough being a single mom, with two dependents, two young children under the age of 18,” said Ms. Perry, a recipient in the Providence Guaranteed Income Pilot Program (PVDGI). “Already, in the first month of the Pilot, my car broke down and I had to get the kids to school. I had to get to class and that money helped me to get a rental until the dealership could refund the money and then that money could go to groceries [and] winter coats.

“With this money I intend to get through this holiday season, gifts and Christmas and birthdays, and then I’m hoping the rest can be saved … and at the end of the year, that’s a sizable amount of money to put down on a house – a home for my children so we don’t have to live in the projects anymore.

“Hopefully we won’t have to struggle. My children didn’t ask for this life – they didn’t ask for these struggles. I do the best I can. I work in healthcare and I feel the pressure of a lot of sickness on my shoulders.

61% of those receiving funds through the Providence Guaranteed Income Program are single moms.

“I’m sure I’m not the only one who works in health care who has the intentions of helping people,” said Ms. Perry. “We all know how moms are. If we can get us all up on our feet, a little bit better, we would be in a really great place despite all of the coronavirus.”

Guaranteed Basic Income 06 Ms Perry, a Guaranteed Basic Income recipient

After receiving over 4,000 applications, 110 residents were randomly selected to participate in the Providence Guaranteed Income Program pilot and in November, received these residents received the first of twelve $500 monthly payments.

“I am thrilled to be announcing these critical milestones as part of the Providence Guaranteed Income Pilot program,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, who brought the program to the city. “Through our application process, we have seen the critical need by our residents for direct financial assistance. Thanks to our many partners, first payments have already been provided to 110 Providence residents enrolled in this program and the important corresponding benefits counseling that is needed.”

Guaranteed Basic Income 01 PVD Mayor Jorge Elorza

The PVDGI pilot is entirely philanthropically funded and was designed as a randomized control trial to learn more about how to build effective guaranteed income and cash assistance programs. As part of the Mayors for Guaranteed Income Coalition, Providence is working with the Center for Guaranteed Income Research, based at the University of Pennsylvania, to evaluate the program.

To be eligible for the program, applicants were required to be Providence residents with an income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. According to the CGIR research team, the randomly-selected participants of the PVDGI program are 76% female and 24% male and the median reported monthly income is $913. The race and ethnic makeup of participants are 45% Hispanic or Latino, 31% White, 19% Black, 5% Asian and 38% identified as another race, meaning they could identify as multiracial or as an ethnic makeup not identified. More than 60% of the participants have children under the age of 18 and the median participant age is 39 years old with 61% of participants between the ages 25-44 and 29% between the ages 45-64.

“It is of critical importance for us to think transformationally and to understand that the status quo is not working, and it hasn’t worked for a very, very long time,” said Cortney Nicolato, CEO of the United Way of Rhode Island. “The government needs to spend the [ARPA funds] and come up with a plan that is transformational.

“At our last press conference I mentioned that 211 took 255,000 phone calls last year,” said Nicolato. 211 is a number to call for assistance in paying bills, finding food and locating resources. “We’re on track to meet that if not exceed that this year.”

Guaranteed Basic Income 05 Cortney Nicolato of United Way of RI

“We must deal with barriers to economic security head on and boldly,” said Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “Closing the well-documented wealth gap and tackling long-standing inequities faced by communities of color requires committed partners and innovative programs like this one. We are glad to do our part by providing the resources and leadership to help make this pilot a success for the recipients and our community.”

Guaranteed Basic Income 04  Neil Steinberg from the Rhode Island Foundation

Other speakers included Eileen Hayes, Executive Director of Amos House and and Partaja Spann of Amos House, who oversaw the GBI Pilot program.

Guaranteed Basic Income 03 Eileen Hayes and Partaja Spann of Amos House

Additionally, the City of Providence and Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) have announced benefits counseling is being expanded to all Rhode Islanders through Dorcas International and Amos House. Benefits counseling was initially developed for the PVDGI pilot as part of an effort to inform potential participants how the PVDGI program may impact their public benefits. The expanded benefits counseling pilot program, designed by the City of Providence and DHS, is funded through a $100,000 grant from DHS and administered by Amos House and Dorcas International. Benefits counselors at Amos House and Dorcas International are trained on all public benefits programs available in Rhode Island.

“It’s hard to imagine the stress families experience on a day-to-day basis when they don’t have enough money for food, housing or healthcare,” said DHS Director Celia Blue. “While these basic needs are not currently available to everyone, guaranteed income helps Rhode Islanders get one step closer to this reality. At DHS, we understand the significance of safety net services. We’re hopeful DHS’ support of newly expanded benefits counseling will further improve this pilot program and help give families new opportunities to thrive.”

Guaranteed Basic Income 02 Celia Blue from RI DHS

Individuals who participate in this newly-expanded benefits counseling will be screened for all benefits programs they may be eligible to receive, and receive application support as well as information on how life changes may potentially impact their benefits. After benefits counseling, individuals will be empowered to make fully informed decisions about available benefits.

All Rhode Island residents are now eligible to schedule benefits counseling Monday through Friday at Amos House from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM and at Dorcas International from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with sessions lasting approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Sessions are available via phone, virtually or in-person in both English and Spanish, with interpretation for other languages available. Counseling participants should have an understanding of their income and benefits they currently receive. Anyone interested in participating may schedule a benefits counseling appointment by contacting Amos House at 401-272-0220 or Dorcas International at 401-784-8600. For additional information, residents can also call 3-1-1. To learn more about the PVDGI program, visit