The pandemic has caused seismic shifts in unemployment levels and promises to change how we live and work well into the future. With almost 40% of American adults not able to cover a $400 emergency with cash or savings, unemployed individuals are left with little options.

The response by hundreds of community based direct cash assistance programs were a temporary panacea. What is needed is a radical reexamination of the potential for longer-term guaranteed cash income. In recent years guaranteed income initiatives such as Universal Basic Income (UBI) have garnered national attention. While temporary cash assistance is having a moment we need to ask ourselves, CAN it be sustained and SHOULD it be sustained as a longer-term solution to addressing economic security?

On July 28, 2020, we heard from two of the longest US based guaranteed cash income pilots about what they have learned through their initiatives including:

  • How people are using the cash
  • Implications for employment
  • How guaranteed cash income can be used to address issues of equity

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This set of three publications from the Aspen Institute explores how direct investments via cash infusions and transfers boost individual and family financial well-being.