ST. LOUIS – The City of St. Louis officially launched a program Tuesday intended to help hundreds of struggling families through a series of monthly $500 payments.

St. Louis’ guaranteed basic income pilot program will offer $500 each month to a limited number of families over the course of 18 months. City officials estimate monthly payments could be available for up to 540 households, and the first installment of payments could be sent to families by this year’s end.

The goal of the program is to help parents or legal guardians in St. Louis who have lost money because of the COVID-19 pandemic, have children in public schools in the City of St. Louis, and make less than 170% of the federal poverty level annually.

Families that meet such criteria can start applying for the program later this month. The city will open up its application phase from Oct. 23 to Nov. 1.

After that, applicants will be chosen for the program through a lottery system between Nov. 6-13. Anyone chosen will be asked to submit financial documentation and proof of residency within St. Louis City. From then on, applicants who are chosen and submit all proper information will be enrolled in the pilot program on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“St. Louis is joining more than 30 municipalities across the country in trying this new,
exciting way to financially empower families and lift them out of poverty,” said Mayor
Tishaura O. Jones on the guaranteed income program.

The program is officially underway, but from now through Oct. 22, it’s in an informational stage. The city is working to notify eligible residents and lists various requirements on the program’s website. From there, those eligible can submit their contact information to be notified of the application process as it begins.

Through this program, the City is allotting $5 million in local pandemic recovery funds to distribute to poverty-stricken families. The St. Louis Treasurer’s Office will oversee the distribution of ARPA funds to St. Louis City residents.

“Throughout the month of October, my office and our GBI partners are committed to
engaging with our community partners to provide education, access, and assistance to
those interested in applying for the GBI program,” said Treasurer Adam Layne. “We
understand the importance of a collective effort in making this program known and
accessible to everyone who needs it.”

Preliminary analysis of GBI programs across the country suggest that families overwhelmingly
use monthly payments for the essentials, especially groceries and utilities.