Apply today: Durham nonprofit launches guaranteed income program for the formerly incarcerated

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Nonprofit group StepUp Durham has launched their guaranteed basic income (GBI) program for the formerly incarcerated, they announced Wednesday evening.

The pilot program, called Excel, will provide 115 formerly incarcerated people with an unconditional cash transfer of $500 per month for one year.

The recipients will be randomly selected out of those who take the survey to apply for the program and there are a few prerequisites that applicants need to meet:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Live in Durham (either city or county)
  • Have an annual income at or below 60-percent of the Area Median Income (AMI)
  • Be within five years of your most recent incarceration

The table below shows the AMI in Durham based on household size:

Household Size12345678
60% of Area median Income $36,300  $41,520  $46,680  $51,840  $56,040  $60,180  $64,320  $68,460

According to StepUp Durham, the goal of the program is to “evaluate guaranteed income’s effects on recidivism and re-incarceration, employment, economic security, and income volatility, as well as physical functioning, mental health, stress, and coping, parenting, housing, and interactions with other institutional systems.”

The group goes on to say that, “We support such a policy because we believe that ongoing direct cash payments can have the dual effect of stabilizing families and stimulating the local economy; that families are best positioned to know their needs and cash transfer programs that come with no strings attached give families the agency they need to address them; and that a guaranteed income is part of a wider set of policies needed in our country to address rising income inequality.”

The total cost of the program is $800,000. The money comes from a grant awarded by Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI). Former Durham Mayor Steve Schewel joined the group in September 2020.

Excel is also part of a collective evaluation by The Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice.

Durham City Councilman Mark Anthony Middleton spoke with CBS 17 in February 2021 about a GBI program after Durham made the shortlist for a $500,000 grant from Twitter that would go toward creating such a program.

“Oftentimes, the dual challenges of housing and employment affect that population and there are concerns about recidivism,” Middleton said. “This is good policy and everyone wins when we stabilize our homes and stabilize families. Guaranteed income is one way to do it.”

Click here to learn more about Excel.

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