Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is using his nonprofit, Humanity Forward, to launch its first significant universal basic income (UBI) experiment in Judson, New York, this fall. As reported by Business Insider, the organization is partnering with a local New York community center, The Spark of Hudson, to provide 20 residents with $500 per month for five years.
According to Yang, the project is something he hopes will pave the way to a similar program across the country. The 45-year-old entrepreneur also believes that the current economic and political landscape will help push such movements into reality.
“I think that millions of Americans got the $1,200 stimulus and liked it, and felt that this is something that we should continue to do in a time when there are record levels of unemployment, and tens of millions of jobs lost, many of which will not return.”
Susan Danziger and Albert Wenger, founders of The Spark of Hudson, have supported UBI for years and share Yang’s optimism about the future of the program.
Hudson is a region located two hours north of Manhattan. The average household income of its 6,700 residents is approximately $35,400, and the poverty rate is 19.2 percent — higher than the national average reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to the New York Daily News, Humanity Forward will track how residents spend their money and analyze the results. Yang, who ran a presidential campaign that promoted a UBI of $1,000 per month, believes that the results will show the promise of such proposals.
“You’re going to see that people become mentally healthier, more optimistic, more secure in their future,” he said, again pointing to the coronavirus stimulus check.
In March, Humanity Forward provided $1 million in $1,000 cash payments to 1,000 households in the Bronx. Although the payment was a one-off for each recipient, Ramona Ferreyra, a 39-year-old Bronx native in public housing, told New York Daily News that the amount “made a big difference.”
The coronavirus pandemic has been pushing ideas like UBI into the realm of possibility. As The Inquisitr reported, a group of top Senate Democrats recently backed a proposal to send Americans $2,000 per month for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. While such support for UBI-like projects is conditional on the crisis, Yang and other advocates of the initiative have taken the opportunity to continue pushing for a permanent UBI, which he believes would provide the country with a net-positive effect.
“I think you’d feel like a load had lifted. You can think bigger and more positively and what you’re going to do in the future. We can do that for everyone,” Yang said.