Providence Guaranteed Income Program Benefits Counseling Expanded through RI DHS $100,000 grant
December 1, 2021
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined RI Department of Human Services (DHS) Interim Director Celia J. Blue, Amos House Executive Director Eileen Hayes, Dorcas International Executive Director Kathleen Cloutier, Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil D. Steinberg, and United Way of Rhode Island President and CEO Cortney Nicolato to provide updates on the Providence Guaranteed Income (PVDGI) Pilot Program. After receiving over 4,000 applications, 110 residents were randomly selected to participate in the PVDGI pilot and in November, received their first of twelve $500 monthly payments. Additionally, the City and partners announced an expansion of the public benefits counseling program, piloted within the PVDGI Program.
“I am thrilled to be announcing these critical milestones as part of the Providence Guaranteed Income Pilot program,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “Through our application process, we have seen the critical need by our residents for direct financial assistance. Thanks to our many partners, first payments have already been provided to 110 Providence residents enrolled in this program and the important corresponding benefits counseling that is needed. Additionally, I am excited that the benefits counseling modeled after our program will now be expanded to even more individuals in need.”
The PVDGI pilot is entirely philanthropically funded and was designed as a randomized control trial to learn more about how to build effective guaranteed income and cash assistance programs. As part of the Mayors for Guaranteed Income (MGI) Coalition, Providence is working with the Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR), based at the University of Pennsylvania, to evaluate the program.
For the pilot, 110 individuals were randomly selected by the CGIR research team from a pool of more than 4,000 applications, collected during a one-week application window in August 2021.
To be eligible for the program, applicants were required to be Providence residents with an income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. According to the CGIR research team, the randomly-selected participants of the PVDGI program are 76% female and 24% male and the median reported monthly income is $913. The race and ethnic makeup of participants are 45% Hispanic or Latino, 31% White, 19% Black, 5% Asian and 38% identified as another race, meaning they could identify as multiracial or as an ethnic makeup not identified. More than 60% of the participants have children under the age of 18 and the median participant age is 39 years old with 61% of participants between the ages 25-44 and 29% between the ages 45-64.
“We must deal with barriers to economic security head on and boldly,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “Closing the well-documented wealth gap and tackling long-standing inequities faced by communities of color requires committed partners and innovative programs like this one. We are glad to do our part by providing the resources and leadership to help make this pilot a success for the recipients and our community.”
Additionally, the City of Providence and Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) have announced benefits counseling is being expanded to all Rhode Islanders through Dorcas International and Amos House. Benefits counseling was initially developed for the PVDGI pilot as part of an effort to inform potential participants how the PVDGI program may impact their public benefits. The expanded benefits counseling pilot program, designed by the City of Providence and DHS, is funded through a $100,000 grant from DHS and administered by Amos House and Dorcas International. Benefits counselors at Amos House and Dorcas International are trained on all public benefits programs available in Rhode Island.
“It’s hard to imagine the stress families experience on a day-to-day basis when they don’t have enough money for food, housing or healthcare,” said Director Blue. “While these basic needs are not currently available to everyone, guaranteed income helps Rhode Islanders get one step closer to this reality. At DHS, we understand the significance of safety net services. We’re hopeful DHS’ support of newly expanded benefits counseling will further improve this pilot program and help give families new opportunities to thrive.”
Individuals who participate in this newly-expanded benefits counseling will be screened for all benefits programs they may be eligible to receive, and receive application support as well as information on how life changes may potentially impact their benefits. After benefits counseling, individuals will be empowered to make fully informed decisions about available benefits.
“I’m very glad to have been selected for the Providence Guaranteed Income Pilot Program,” said Ms. Perry, Providence Guaranteed Income Program Recipient. “Not only has the additional income offered me financial security to buy Christmas presents for my two children, supply food for our household for Thanksgiving dinner, and save for future expenses, but the support services like benefits counseling have helped me to better understand how to maximize my benefits and resources.”
All Rhode Island residents are now eligible to schedule benefits counseling Monday through Friday at Amos House from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM and at Dorcas International from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with sessions lasting approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Sessions are available via phone, virtually or in-person in both English and Spanish, with interpretation for other languages available. Counseling participants should have an understanding of their income and benefits they currently receive. Anyone interested in participating may schedule a benefits counseling appointment by contacting Amos House at 401-272-0220 or Dorcas International at 401-784-8600. For additional information, residents can also call 3-1-1. To learn more about the PVDGI program, visit PVDGI.com.