Despite working multiple jobs, many Black women are still struggling with poverty and low incomes. A new program in Georgia will provide up to 650 Black women in the state who live near or below the poverty line with $850 in cash, no strings attached, to help ease their financial burdens, HuffPost reports.

The program, called In Her Hands, will launch early 2022 and will distribute more than $13 million. This would make it “one of the largest guaranteed income pilot programs in the U.S.,” according to HuffPost.

In Her Hands is backed by GiveDirectly and the Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund (GRO Fund), an Atlanta-based coalition focused on racial justice.

Providing cash to struggling individuals and families proved beneficial during the pandemic. For instance, a University of Michigan study found that the federal stimulus checks substantially reduced hardship, including a sharp decline in food shortage, financial instability, and anxiety, The New York Times reported in June.

According to the study, food insufficiency fell by over 40%, financial instability fell by 45%, and adverse mental health symptoms fell by 20%.

The bottom line: show Black women where the money reside.

Over 80% of Black women are breadwinners for their families, whether they are the sole earners or they provide at least 40% of their household’s income. Without adequate incomes for Black women, entire families can struggle.

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As employers on average have failed to provide wages that keep up with the cost of living, many Black women work more than in years past and still struggle to maintain a high quality of life. Black women are, in fact, more likely than anyone else to work more jobs than they did a decade ago, according to a 2016 study.

In a statement, Hope Wollensack, executive director of the GRO Fund said, “Black women are among the most likely groups to experience cash shortfalls that make covering basic needs difficult.” Financial difficulty and economic inequity aren’t because of “poor choices,” Wollensack said. Rather, “[i]t’s the result of pervasive economic insecurity that has the sharpest impacts on women and communities of color and the people who live at the intersection of the two.” 

In Her Hands is poised to be the largest guaranteed income program in the South. It joins other universal basic income (UBI) programs around the country targeting poverty that has not been adequately addressed, and worsened in some cases, by the private sector.

For instance, Stockton, California gave residents $500 per month as one of the first U.S. towns to pilot a UBI program. As then-Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs told PBS regarding the program’s impact:

[N]umber one, people did not stop working. In fact, we found that those who received the guaranteed income were more likely to find full-time employment and were less likely to be unemployed than they were before the guaranteed income, but also in comparison to the group of folks in the control group who unfortunately did not receive the guaranteed income.

We also saw that, no surprise, that the $500 allowed people to be better able to handle emergencies when they came up to deal with income volatility. And that we also found that health, mental health impacts, from something as small as $500. We saw that depression decreased. We saw that cortisol levels decreased. We saw that stress and anxiety decreased. 

The program’s base in Georgia is notable. Despite being home to the “Black Mecca” of Atlanta, “Georgia has some of the starkest economic insecurity and instability in the country, especially for Black and Brown women,” said Atlanta Councilmember Amir Farokhi in a statement, as Reckon South reports.

Further, as the outlet states, Atlanta has the highest income inequality of any major city in the continental U.S., and “Black women in Georgia are twice as likely to be living in poverty as white women, according to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, and have been the hardest hit by pandemic unemployment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.”

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