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Alderwoman wants $5M in ARPA funds for universal basic income in St. Louis

Carolina Hidalgo
St. Louis Public Radio
26th Ward Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard, shown at her swearing-in in 2019, is sponsoring legislation creating a pilot universal basic income.

Some members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen want to use $5 million of the city’s remaining pot of COVID relief funds to set up a universal basic income.

Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard of the 26th Ward introduced the measure on Friday. It’s part of a bill appropriating $52.2 million of the city’s remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds. Exact details of implementation, including who would be eligible and how much they would receive, are still being worked out.

The city used an earlier round of ARPA dollars to provide a single $500 cash payment to about 9,100 individuals. A review of that program found most recipients used the money to meet basic needs.

Ongoing regular payments, Hubbard said, would help recipients gain financial stability and reduce anxiety.

“Because it’s things that they might not have to worry about that they have to worry about now from month to month,” she said.

Though the board has just 10 meetings left in its current session and a number of other big pieces of legislation to address, Clark Hubbard remains optimistic about the program’s chances.

“I’ve pulled hard bills before, and just tried my hardest to work with the community, work with my colleagues to get it done. So I guess the short answer to that is, I’m going to try my hardest,” she said.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.