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This mayor will provide a monthly $500 cash transfer to Black women for two years

The One Pittsburgh program would distribute funds to 100 Black women in order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and continued socioeconomic inequity.

This mayor will provide a monthly $500 cash transfer to Black women for two years
Image Source: Pittsburgh Mourns Mass Shooting At Synagogue Saturday Morning. PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 28. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will soon kickstart his Assured Cash Experiment (ACE) using $2.5 million of the federal funds granted to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. As part of an experimental cash transfer program called One Pittsburgh, 200 participants will receive a monthly cash payment of $500 for a period of two years to use as they wish. Half of the participants will be African American women. The other half will comprise individuals facing financial hardship, food insecurity, and employment issues. The federal grant is part of the American Rescue Plan, an emergency stimulus bill to help families in need.

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The guaranteed cash transfer is expected to aid families struggling with financial stability, in addition to improving mental health and chronic stress. The local non-profit organization OnePGH will reach out to families that qualify for the cash transfer program and disburse the funds. Michele Abbott, the program lead, hopes that the project will be launched by the end of the year. Families will be able to access the funds via a debit card and spend the funds according to their needs.

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The cash transfer program is a direct response to a 2019 study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh. As part of the 2019 Gender Equity Commission report Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race, experts recommended eight focus areas for policymakers in Pittsburgh. One of these areas is Black women's employment and poverty. Researchers at the University revealed that several indicators of quality of life—including life expectancy, income, educational facilities for children, and employment opportunities—would automatically improve for a Black Pittsburgh resident simply by moving.

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According to findings from the study, more African American women live in poverty in Pittsburgh than in most other cities in the United States. Most notably, the cash transfers are expected to bring Black women closer to the city's average income; While White residents in the region earned a median income of $59,044 in 2017, Black residents earned $30,440, data from the Census Bureau American Community Survey reveals. Furthermore, Pittsburgh’s Black women are five times as likely as White men to live in poverty and twice as likely as White women. While One Pittsburgh is only a temporary fix for much larger, systemic barriers to economic and social equity, cash transfer programs have shown immense potential in their ability to eradicate poverty.

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For instance, 35 percent of unhoused recipients of a universal basic income found secure housing in six months, an experimental cash transfer program launched by the non-profit Miracle Messages found. Similarly, in Canada, the Foundations for Social Change distributed a one-time cash payment of $7,500 to unhoused folks in need. They discovered that 67 percent of recipients could still afford to feed themselves independently every single day a year later. Most recipients also had $1,000 in savings. Mayor Peduto hopes to see comparable benefits to the One Pittsburgh program.

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