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3 Indianapolis nonprofits fund Universal Basic Income program

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Posted at 8:24 PM, Jun 06, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — The idea of a universal basic income was first brought to light in 2020. Then, democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang discussed the concept during his campaign.

Since then, three nonprofits here in Indianapolis have experimented with it.

Daywanda Dunn is one of the 15 people that took part in the universal basic income program. She is a home healthcare worker and a single mom.

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"Housing, bills, clothes that my daughter needed,” Dunn said. “It was just a rotation. You knew you could count on it because it was always there. No questions asked, so I knew if I was short, I always had that to help."

Dunn says she was in a bad car accident during the time she was receiving the extra funds. During that time, she wasn't able to work.

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She says the extra income helped her make ends meet.

"I would have struggled,” Dunn said. “I probably could have done it, but I would have struggled if I didn't have the crutch."

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The Edna Martin Christian Center, Southeast Community Services and the John Boner Neighborhood Center provided $500 a month for 18 months to 15 different people who were active in their programming.

The participants were able to use the money for anything they pleased.

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"I think we were just very curious to see how providing some financial assistance in a different way would impact the lives of the families that were engaged in the program,” Maggie Goeglein, the COO Edna Martin Christian Center, said.

The finding showed the majority of people who participated spent the money on necessities like housing and utilities. It also showed that some participants were able to get better jobs and increase their credit scores by paying off major debts.

That's why the nonprofits hope the City of Indianapolis might explore a program like this at a larger scale in the future.

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"We really hope that, locally, the city, state or local founders will see our baby pilot and help us grow it,” Peggy Frame, Executive Director at Southeast Community Services, said.

This program was made possible through grants from a family foundation that isn't local to Indianapolis.

The nonprofits say if they secure funding to the program again, they will and hopefully provide a UBI to even more people.

To read more about the results from the program, click here.