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St. Louis mayor signs 'guaranteed income' bill into law Wednesday

The law aims to support about 440 St. Louis families living in poverty, expand health care access and create new opportunities for local youth.
Credit: ElenaR - stock.adobe.com

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones on Wednesday signed the Working Families Bill into law, establishing Missouri's first guaranteed income program.

Using $52 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, BB116 aims to support about 440 St. Louis families living in poverty, expand health care access and create new opportunities for local youth.

The St. Louis Board of Alderman earlier this month approved the bill, which includes $5 million to establish monthly direct cash payments from the City of St. Louis for parents in poverty for at least a year and a half.

"St. Louis is back on the map, joining more than 20 cities across the country in piloting an innovative, forward-thinking guaranteed basic income program for city schoolchildren and their families,” Jones said in a statement Wednesday. “This bill is an investment directly in our communities still struggling to get back on their feet. Lifting families out of poverty makes our city stronger and safer."

The guaranteed basic income pilot program will require families to meet all of the following qualifications:

  1. St. Louis residents must be the parent or legal guardian of a child under 18 enrolled in a public school in the City of St. Louis.
  2. They must have suffered a negative impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. They must be at or below 170% of the federal poverty level based on family size and household income, meaning a single parent earning less than $31,127 or a couple making less than $39,151.

Families would have to report the funds as income, Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard said after sponsoring the bill earlier this month.

In addition to the direct monthly payments, the bill also provides $13 million in funding to four federally qualified health centers in St. Louis for expansion across north and south St. Louis, $2 million to the city's new Bureau of Behavioral Health to combat substance misuse and abuse as well as $10 million to enhance youth diversion programming through the Office of Violence Prevention and St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment.

“Connecting our youth to the right resources and opportunities has been proven to deter them from a life of crime and violence,” Office of Violence Prevention Director Wilford Pinkney said in a statement. “We are using these funds to take a holistic approach to address crime in our communities and make our neighborhoods safer.”

Click here to read the full text of the bill.

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