Durham Residents Might Receive a Guaranteed Universal Basic Income


By Thomasi Mcdonald

January 7, 2020

The idea of a universal basic income gained significant national traction in recent years thanks to presidential candidate Andrew Yang (who is now running for mayor of New York City), among other supporters.

Schewel asked the two council members to review other cities’ pilot programs to determine which best practices could be adapted by Durham.

“It’s been one of the holiday gifts that we share with the public, and I’m glad that today we are letting folks know that this is coming,” Freelon said.

Freelon said the possibility of city residents receiving a basic guaranteed income “is a really important part of a broad scope of programs to address a variety of issues that relate back to poverty, including violence.”

“Every two weeks reminds us that the shooting hasn’t stopped, the violence has continued,” Freelon added, referring to last year’s dismal plateau of more than 800 shootings and nearly 40 homicides in the city.

Freelon said that he had met with officials from Charleston, South Carolina and Richmond, Virginia, “to hear how they have deployed those resources,” along with reviewing programs in Stockton and Compton, California to develop a pilot that’s “still Durham, uniquely Durham.”

Freelon added that he intends to meet with officials at Duke University’s Samuel Dubois Cook Center for Social Equity that’s headed by economic scholar William “Sandy” Darity, who previously called for federal reparations for Black Americans in his latest book, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, that he co-wrote with his partner Kirsten Mullen.

Middleton called the chance for residents to receive a guaranteed universal income, “a huge opportunity for the city that will allow leaders to focus on the root causes instead of traditional approaches” to issues like crime.