ATLANTA - The largest guaranteed income program in the southeast will roll out right here in Atlanta.
It is called "In Her Hands" and is designed to lift 650 African American women in Georgia out of poverty.
Civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for guaranteed income programs more than 50 years ago.
In the Old Fourth Ward community where Dr. King once lived, the income gap for Black Americans is most dramatic. Forty-six percent of Black households make less than $25,000 per year.
That is a statistic this program hopes to change.
"There is this neighborhood that sits in the shadow of King's legacy and yet just blocks away we have The largest concentration of Section 8 housing in the southeast Juxtaposed to newly constructed $1,000,000 homes," Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund Executive Director Hope Wollensack observed.
Ms. Wollensack said the program will launch in the Old Fourth Ward, but will expand to the suburbs of Atlanta and a rural county in southwest Georgia.
The pilot program was born out of a community task force focused on eradicating poverty convened by former Mayor Shirley Franklin and others.
It will put $850 in cash in the women's pockets with no strings attached.
"The power when you put cash in the hands of women, the impact it can have on their life to enable choice and agency the impact it has on the lives of their children and community," Ms. Wollensack commented.
Michelle Lockhart is an Atlanta native who has survived through lean times.
"How are we going to pay our light bill, how are we going to pay our rent or wondering how we're going to feed three to four or five kids?" Ms. Lockhart has wondered in the past.
This income program begins to answer some of those questions.
Applications for the $13 million program will be accepted beginning in the spring.
Those women who will be selected can earn no more than double the poverty line, which equates to about $50,000 a year.
For more information, check givedirectly.org