October 28, 2021

County Executive Elrich, County Council Propose Special Appropriation of Nearly $2 Million to Help Fund ‘Guaranteed Income Pilot Program’

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich joined County Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz and Councilmembers Will Jawando and Evan Glass on Oct. 26 to provide details of a proposed “Guaranteed Income Pilot Program” for Montgomery County residents. If a special appropriation is approved by the Council to create the program, it would begin in 2022 and provide direct cash payments of $800 per month to 300 County households for 24 months.

If approved, Montgomery County’s program would be the first of its kind in Maryland. The Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the appropriation at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2. More information on the proposal can be found here.

Among those joining the event in Rockville to unveil the program were the County’s director of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Raymond L. Crowel and representatives from the Meyer Foundation, the Collaboration Council, nonprofits and university partners.

The County’s Guaranteed Income Pilot Program will be a public-private partnership supported by the County Executive, Montgomery County DHHS, the Meyer Foundation, UpTogether and the Collaboration Council. The County’s support would include a special appropriation of $1.99 million from County reserve funds.

Area university partners will evaluate the program’s impact on participating households with anecdotal, qualitative and quantitative data.

“Financial insecurity forces many of our most vulnerable residents to make unthinkable decisions between spending money on food, prescriptions or needs for their children at the expense of each other. This should not happen here or anywhere in this country,” said County Executive Elrich. “It is difficult to afford to live and get by in a place as expensive as Montgomery County on limited and fixed incomes without the current growing inflation in our markets. I am proud to support the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program and appreciate Councilmembers Jawando and Albornoz, our HHS Department, the Meyer Foundation, UpTogether, and the Collaboration Council for their leadership, partnership and collaboration on this important program that we must get off the ground with a great sense of urgency.”

Guaranteed income pilot programs have been tested in other jurisdictions across the nation. Nearby jurisdictions such as Arlington County and the City of Alexandria in Virginia have announced similar guaranteed income pilot programs to help alleviate financial inequalities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Wealth and income inequality in the U.S. and in Montgomery County continues to be a challenge that has only become more dire during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Councilmember Jawando. “Guaranteed income is a promising strategy to reduce inequality and relieve pressure for families struggling to meet basic needs. As the first jurisdiction in Maryland to launch a Guaranteed Income Pilot Program, I want our county to be on the forefront of understanding and implementing solutions that improve the lives of our residents and allow them to achieve their full potential.”

Council Vice President Albornoz said the pilot program could prove to have a significant impact on struggling families.

"I am excited about the potential for this program to assist families in permanently exiting poverty,” said Council Vice President Albornoz. “It honors a family's resilience by placing trust in their ability to make their own decisions on what is best for their path forward. This program will help provide economic mobility and put an end to generational poverty."

The Meyer Foundation has pledged to support the program.

“At the Meyer Foundation, we believe that organizations and institutions across sectors must work in partnership to make meaningful progress on challenges in our region,” said Meyer Foundation Director for Maryland Partnerships and Strategy Julian Haynes. “We’re glad to join local government leaders and community partners in supporting a pilot that will put much-needed resources directly into the hands of Montgomery County families navigating the painful realities of poverty and economic injustice."