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Earlier this year, the City of Alexandria dedicated some of its American Rescue Plan Act funding to a program that would guarantee a basic income, but now one of the non-profits working on the pilot said it’s hit some delays with no estimate of when the pilot will start.

The pilot program is now called, in a sort of transparent backronym, Alexandria’s Recurring Income for Success and Equity (ARISE). It will focus on 150 families who will receive a $500 monthly cash payment for 24 months, with no strings attached on its use. Eligibility has been set at 50% of the area median income or below.

The Department of Community & Human Services (DCHS) has been overseeing the pilot in cooperation with Bruhn Morris Foundation and ACT for Alexandria, two local non-profits. ACT for Alexandria said in an email that “while great progress has been made” there have also been some delays.

“Enrollment has been postponed and an estimated start date for applications is not yet available,” ACT for Alexandria said. “DCHS is in the process of securing a research partner to study and report on the outcomes of the pilot and to identify a partner to disburse the funds.”

ACT for Alexandria said the hope is to start the program sometime in spring 2022.

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One of the most high-profile uses of American Rescue Plan funding in Alexandria is the city’s foray into providing a guaranteed basic income for some of the city’s lowest-income residents. At a meeting today (Monday), leadership of the program shared new information about how the program will work.

Kate Garvey, director of the department of community and human service, outlined the basics of the program in a Zoom meeting today.

“[Guaranteed basic income] raises the floor so that people can live with dignity and have the power to make their own choices,” Garvey said.

Garvey also specified that the city is pursuing guaranteed basic income — an income supplement that helps to elevate the standard of living for residents making below a certain income level — rather than universal income, which goes to eveyone equally.

The Alexandria program follows the work of other localities, and Garvey said the city is working off the model laid out by Stockton, California, in particular. The pandemic, Garvey said, was another push toward the program.

“The disproportionate impact [COVID-19] had on Latino and communities of color is profound,” Garvey said, “and it calls us to a different kind of action.”

Garvey said a guaranteed basic income is part of an attempt to close the gap in racial income disparities.

In the pilot stage of the city’s guaranteed basic income program, 150 individuals will receive $500 per month for 24 months. Other supportive services will be offered, Garvey said, but not mandated. Eligible residents will be those earning an income at 30-40% of area median income. Staff said the program will require that participants have some form of income other than the program.

Area Median Income levels, via City of Alexandria

Along with the group of residents receiving the funding, Garvey said there will a “control group” that is not receiving funding.

“Some of these things are challenging: the fact that we have a phenomenal project but only 150 individuals can be in that is one,” Garvey said. “We’re not normally comfortable with the idea of having a control group, but this will help inform: what’s the difference when you have a resource like this. It’s important as we’re pushing and pressing on policy makers for why it’s important.”

Lesa Gilbert, director of the Department of Community and Human Services Center for Economic Support, said the program’s success will be measured in how the funding impacts residents enrolled in the program.

“Success will be measured in better quality of life, quality time with family, paying bills and taking care of financial need without stressors,” Gilbert said.

There are still a few hurdles to clear before project implementation. Garvey said up next is that the project’s implementation plan will need to be reviewed and approved by the city manager. The city will also need to make decisions on how cash will be dispersed and monitor the future of the program.

“We will establish something we’re calling an economic mobility advisory committee to keep an eye toward the future on what transformation is possible,” Garvey said, “and looking at how individuals and families can be supported.”

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Morning Notes

Alexandria among areas with highest median income in Virginia — “According to a recent study by SmartAsset, residents in Alexandria are among the highest earners in Virginia. The analysis was completed as part of the company’s study on the places with the most purchasing power, and cost of living was factored into the calculations.” [Alexandria Living]

Target, Walmart, BJ’s, Costco: Virginia stores end masks for vaccinated — “BJ’s Wholesale Club, Starbucks, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Trader Joe’s will also no longer require masks inside stores. Initially, Target and Walmart had been among numerous establishments in a holding pattern after last week’s announcements.” [Patch]

‘The Physical Therapy Zone’ expands operation — “We just knocked a hole in the wall and expanded into the suite next door.” [Gazette]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High around 80F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph… Clear (in the evening). Low 56F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Bartenders — “Here at Doyle’s Outpost, we are looking for a great team who will “change the game” with us while providing elevated service each and every day while making lasting connections with our guests! We are searching for exceptional, motivated, charismatic and genuine people, who can work smart and thrive under pressure, all with a smile. Get in on the ground floor of this exciting opportunity.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Still No Motive for Student Accused of Double Homicide — “George Ivan Maertens Aramayo said police have not told him why his daughter, 19, and Bianda, 21, were killed. He is not familiar with Mohamed Aly, the 18-year-old from Alexandria who is facing two first-degree murder charges. Aly attended T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, where friends say he was a strong student and athlete hoping to play college football.” [Washington Post]

APD Testing Electric Parking Enforcement Vehicle — “APD’s Parking Enforcement Unit conducted a test of an electric GO-4 vehicle today. Pictured is Parking Enforcement Officer Ms. Fuller, who has operated the GO-4 type vehicle for the last 23 years.” [Twitter]

For Alexandria Families, $100K Doesn’t Cut It — “An analysis by personal finance site MagnifyMoney found that in some pricey cities it’s particularly hard to make it on $100,000. ‘The worst metro area for a family earning $100,000 includes Washington, D.C. and neighboring cities Arlington and Alexandria, Va. After factoring in monthly expenses, families would be $315 in the red.'” [MarketWatch]

Fail: King Street Metro Screens — “The status of the fancy new displays at King Street Station: THREE bios screens and a fourth dead one. The one beside the manager’s station has been showing the bios screen for WEEKS.” [Twitter]

Patent Office Holding Job Fair — “The United States Patent & Trademark Office is holding a job fair and hiring 100s of engineers to examine America’s patents in 2020… The Patent Examiner Recruitment Open House event in Alexandria, VA is designed to attract soon-to-be graduates and professionals.” [Zebra]

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