A two-year pilot program is underway in New Jersey's largest city to provide hundreds of low-income residents with guaranteed income through cash payments.
The program kicked off in Newark on Monday for the first 30 residents of the program, with plans to expand to several hundred people by the fall.
"Today I'm proud to announce that Newark has taken a historic step towards economic justice by launching The Newark Movement for Economic Equity, Newark's guaranteed pilot program aimed at giving recurring cash payments to Newark residents," Mayor Ras Baraka said Monday outside City Hall.
Starting this week, Duwan Priester will be among the 30 Newark residents to receive $6,000 a year of guaranteed income.
"Guaranteed income unconditionally gives monthly cash payments to direct individuals with no strings attached, no work requirements, and is rooted in the history of racial justice," Baraka said.
Priester says he plans to use the money to help pay for an apartment when he starts college in the fall.
"I'm very grateful. I prayed for something to happen to make my dreams easier for me," he said at Monday's launch of the pilot program.
Newark joins a growing list of cities across the country to implement such a program to assist people below the poverty line or with inconsistent or no income. Newark's program will focus on providing assistance to housing insecure populations.
Interested and eligible Newark residents can start applying for the program in July. The program is open to residents of Newark ages 18 and older whose income levels are "at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold."
The city plans to expand its pilot program to support 400 people. So far, the program is funded through private donations, including a large grant from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
The Newark Movement for Economic Equity will collect research on what people are spending their money on.
Newark will experiment with how to pay people— some will get $250 every other week, others will get a $3,000 check twice a year.