Millions of American households go through poverty. As of 2020, approximately 37.25 million individuals were living below the poverty line. When individuals struggle financially, it can be quite a challenge to afford necessities. One method that some individuals want support for this issue is through Universal Basic Income (UBI). However, not everyone knows what UBI is or how it can help. If you are one of those people, then this article could help you understand!
What is Universal Basic Income (UBI)?
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a government support option where every adult citizen can receive a certain amount of money regularly. The aim of this type of assistance option is to assist people that are in poverty and substitute other need-based programs that the federal government provides (which may need more involvement from the government.) This idea is not new, however! It only started gaining attention across the United States recently. The idea of UBI has been around for hundreds of years. Even though there have been federal assistance options in the United States such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), tax credit options, and so on, there has never been UBI.
What Do Individuals Think About UBI?
Many individuals support UBI, but there are also many individuals that do not believe UBI should exist in society. For instance, during the 2020 presidential campaign, candidate Andrew Yang suggested offering all Americans over the age of 18 $1,000 per month. This would provide Americans with $12,000 per year. This was just an idea since he did not make it far in the presidential race.
There are people completely against the idea of UBI. The biggest problem is the fact that it would cost a lot of money to offer this type of relief option. If we follow Yang’s plan as an example of offering Americans $12,000 per year, then it would amount to approximately $2.8 trillion per year. There are methods to help manage this cost. For instance, Yang suggested that there could be a decrease in other federal programs, as well as more tax for businesses and carbon emissions. However, those efforts would not be enough to provide coverage for the cost entirely.
Other than cost, another reason that individuals do not support UBI is because of its influence on the workforce. When individuals are receiving free money, some people believe that recipients will probably not be willing to work as much. A counterpoint to this argument is that individuals will not be able to live off of $12,000 per year, so the funds would only be used to help add to their income.
Locations in the United States That Have UBI
Despite that there are no federal programs that offer UBI to Americans, there are locations that have a guaranteed income to eligible people. Some of these locations that offer a fixed income to citizens include:
- Tacoma, Washington
- Oakland, California
- Columbia, South Carolina
Similar to other federal assistance programs, these support options can help people that are eligible. For instance, in Tacoma, Washington, there are only 110 people who participate in the program that can receive $500 per month for one year. This program is not available on a permanent basis–the option expires in December 2022. This means that you might benefit from seeing if there are any options available for your town. You might be surprised by what you find!
Other Federal Assistance Options in the United States
While UBI might not be available for Americans soon at the federal level, there are other assistance options that can help individuals that are financially struggling. Some other federal programs that you can think about include:
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Housing Choice Voucher Program
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
A common assistance option for people who need help is TANF. TANF is a federal program that offers grants to state governments (and territories) to use to offer financial relief and support services. This means that the assistance will differ based on the state. Even though it will differ based on the state, individuals can generally expect to see assistance with employment, job preparation, child care, and so on!
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
A common assistance opportunity for low-income American households is SNAP. SNAP is a food assistance option that can support people who need it through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. This card will get money on it every month and recipients can use it to buy eligible items that include groceries such as dairy, fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, and more. The amount you could receive will differ depending on factors. This includes your state, income level, and household size.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
When experiencing different levels of poverty, individuals can find themselves in a tight financial spot. This is because they might earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but not earn enough to handle medical insurance expenses from the marketplace. That is where CHIP plays a role. CHIP is a healthcare assistance option that can assist households. Through CHIP, kids up to the age of 19 receive low-expense health coverage. Each program will depend on the state.
Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a housing assistance option for low-income American families, which is also called the Section 8 program. This housing program differs based on the state. The Section 8 program offers support through housing vouchers to people that are eligible. Eligibility will depend on requirements such as income, eviction history, household size, and so on. The amount that the housing vouchers will be worth will depend on eligibility requirements such as income and household size.
Recipients can use these vouchers at properties that allow them! They can look for the properties they want, but it needs to be limited to only properties that accept housing vouchers. This could make it a challenge to find the right place to stay. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that this program will probably have waitlists. Waitlist times can take as long as months or years, so you might not get assistance as quickly as you think.
The Final Verdict
UBI is a government option where every adult citizen would receive a certain amount of money regularly. The aim of this program is to assist people that are in poverty and substitute other need-based social programs that the government provides. While there is no federal option that resembles UBI in America yet, there might be local assistance options that can offer a fixed income. There are other federal programs that can provide financial relief with costs such as TANF, SNAP, CHIP, and the Section 8 Program!