DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Since March, more than 100 people in Durham have been receiving free income through the city’s first Guaranteed Basic Income pilot program.
The non-profit, StepUp Durham, launched the Excel program that is specifically set up to help formerly incarcerated individuals readjust to society.
There are 109 participants in Durham who receive a monthly income of $600, and the income is funded through a grant from “Mayors For a Guaranteed Income.”
The participants of the program were randomly selected from a survey that went out in January.
Tyler Brackfield is one of the participants who was selected for the program.
While Brackfield said he is on the right track now as he is working for a company that specializes in electrical automation, he said it wasn’t always been this way.
“After being a heroin addict and an opioid addict for eight years, I kind of got to a point where I was done with it,” Brackfield said.
Brackfield said he spent time in jail and prison on drug charges. He said when he would get released, it was not always easy to readjust to society.
“There were jobs where I got turned down, definitely I got turned down,” Brackfield said. “They said ‘your background check came through,’ and they said ‘it’s a little more than we want to take on.’”
He was recently able to find a job making $11.50 an hour at a linen rental company. Shortly after that he heard about the Excel Program and decided to apply.
“I kind of did it as a way to show everybody else how to do it, versus thinking I would actually get selected,” Brackfield said.
But he did get selected and since March he has been receiving $600 a month in free income.
“It allowed me to have a savings account, like for if something went wrong,” Brackfield said.
But in addition to a financial cushion, he said this program has helped change his outlook on life.
For instance, he recently started working at a higher paying job and he said he has been clean for six months.
“I think being able to surround myself with good people, it keeps me going and keeps my head on straight,” Brackfield said. “I’m always going to have the past I had, but there’s no future that’s set in stone. So I can make what I want to make out of it.”
The Excel Program is currently a pilot program that will last through March 2023.