Tuesday, October 31, 2023, 3:38 p.m
DURHAM, North Carolina – Tydricka Lewis works 12-hour shifts to make ends meet, but the extra money from Durham’s Excel program is helping ease the financial burden. In fact, it helps her keep up with her car records.
“It allowed me to get proper transportation for my children and myself,” Lewis said. “Helps me get back and forth to work. I’m at school running everyday errands.”
The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program was launched last year. Syreeta Hill oversees the program and told ABC11 that it helps keep people out of the criminal justice system by providing them with extra money.
“The guaranteed income was 600 per month for one year for 109 formerly incarcerated people,” Hill said. “Giving people unrestricted money works. It helps people take care of their basic needs.”
City leaders said that while the program has faced backlash, the perception is wrong.
“I’ve been getting all sorts of emails and text messages from people saying you’re giving away money to ex-cons,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mark-Anthony Middleton. “Surprise, surprise, people were paying bills and doing things for their kids.”
He told ABC11 there’s a reason the city invested in further developing the program by committing $1 million to the next group of participants. This comes as guaranteed income programs across the country continue to garner national attention, including Durham’s.
The second group of participants could be selected as early as spring next year.
“When we send a check to people with jobs during COVID-19, we call it a stimulus check because it stimulates the economy,” he said. “If we do it regularly for everyone, is that called subsidized pathology? This is good economic practice. It improves the economy.”
Durham Mayor Pro Tempore Mark-Anthony Middleton said the next round of participants could be selected as early as spring 2024.
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