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Between February 17- 27, over 6,000 Central Iowans applied to be one of the 110 randomly selected individuals for the basic income pilot study. Those selected to receive the monthly payments were notified throughout March and April and attended an onboarding session that involved a detailed overview of the project, specifics about their payments, and if needed, a counseling session to examine any impacts to receiving public benefits. The UpLift team is excited to introduce an overview of the participants who will be sharing their experiences to determine the impacts of basic income in Central Iowa.
Overall, selected participants reflect the diverse communities living within Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties. Eighty-one percent of participants live in Polk County, 10% live in Dallas County, and 9% live in Warren County. Participants live in 20 different communities throughout the three counties. It was important that all of Central Iowa’s geographical areas were represented in the study sample to inform how a basic income model works in different community settings. As a result, 10% of participants live in a rural area, 25% live in a micropolitan area, and 65% live in a metropolitan area, mirroring the population demographics of our tri-county study area.
Participants also reflect the diverse make-up of the tri-county area. The majority of participants identify as White (55%), followed by Black or African American (26%), Asian (4.5%), Latinx (4.5%), and multi-racial or another race (10%). As for ethnicity, 19% identified as having Hispanic or Latino origin and 81% identified as not being Hispanic or Latino. A breadth of languages – 9 total – are spoken among the participant group. EveryStep and ¡Al Éxito! served as key experts to provide equitable outreach and interpretation services for those who needed support while applying.
While identified as low-income most UpLift participants are working, with the average household income being just above $24,000 a year. Despite a majority of participants working full-time, participants are still spending, on average, 44% of their income on rent or housing costs. According to United Way of Central Iowa (United Way of Central Iowa OpportUNITY Housing), someone is considered “housing burdened” if they spend more than 30% of their income on rent or housing costs. This illustrates how constrained participants may be in making decisions about meeting their basic living needs.