Columbia, MO – Missouri Jobs with Justice is asking for $5.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to start a program that gives money directly to people in Boone County. They want to give $500 every month to about 800 families for one year. These families would be picked from those who earn the same or less than the average income in the area.
“Most families report that they can’t afford a $500 emergency, and COVID-19 made that financial insecurity a lot worse for people,” said Richard von Glahn of Missouri Jobs with Justice.
The plan is to help families that earn 40% or less than Boone County’s average income, which is $66,564. Out of the total funds requested, about $5 million would go directly as cash to these families, and $500,000 would be used to support local groups helping with the program.Top of Form
“We don’t look at it as a handout, we look at it as an investment,” von Glahn said. “We talk about investments in our roads, investments in our schools, those are important, but investments in our neighbors are directly important, as well.”
The plan is to use a similar approach to what’s being tried out in St. Louis right now.
St. Louis’s official site mentions a Guaranteed Basic Income program. It’s funded with $5 million from ARPA and offers people $500 every month for 18 months. The site explains the program as a way to fight back against the economic problems caused by COVID-19 and issues that working people face.
To qualify in St. Louis, a person must live there, have a kid under 18 in public school, have been financially hurt by the pandemic, and earn less than 170% of the federal poverty level.
For a family of three, the poverty line in 2024 is close to $26,000. A review by Missouri Jobs with Justice in 2022 of St. Louis’s program showed that 9,300 individuals got $500 in direct money.
The data indicated that over 33% of this money was either taken out at ATMs or moved to different accounts, with the rest mainly spent on food and household bills. Missouri Jobs with Justice is keen on seeing more programs like this one take off.
“We do think these programs are important not just in St. Louis City and not just in Boone County, but would be an important consideration all across the state,” von Glahn said.
The Boone County request for $5.5 million from the ARPA funds is flexible. This means the actual money asked for can go up or down, based on the number of people Boone County decides to help and the amount of money it chooses to distribute.
There’s also a need for money to make bank cards for those getting the aid and to set up a website for the program.
This week, Boone County started looking at the ARPA fund requests after getting over 100 of them. The total money asked for is $54 million, but the county has just $6.5 million to give out. The Boone County Commission is going through all the requests and plans to let everyone know by spring which projects get the green light.