Meet Steady, the company behind guaranteed income cash distribution

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Tacoma, Washington, is the latest US city to roll out a guaranteed income pilot program; it’s called GRIT, or Growing Resilience in Tacoma. In December, the city launched a year of payments of $ 500 per month to 110 people residing in low-income postal codes, single-parent households and with a family budget of less than $ 52,000 (which is about 20% less than the median household income.).

It is the latest in a long list of similar pilot programs across the country, and one that is part of the Coalition of Mayors for Guaranteed Income (MGI). It is also one of several MGI pilot projects where the host city uses a FinTech company to ensure a transparent distribution of funds. The company, Steady, stresses that its delivery system is not only a smooth option, but also the most informative, as it collects data on how recipients interact with money, which can be vital for reporting. finals that MGI aims to publish to convince the federal government to implement guaranteed income programs nationwide.

Fixed (one of Fast business’s 2021 Brands That Matter) is an “income intelligence platform” that creates technology models to help part-time workers increase their incomes. He has formed a community of 4 million independent entrepreneurs, freelancers and 1,099 workers who cannot count on the comforts of a predictable, finally stable income. Adam Roseman, co-founder and CEO of the company (the other co-founder is Shaquille O’Neal), calls the community a “quasi-union,” but one for the tech age. “Here, they take advantage of the power of data,” he says. Using this data, Steady shares revenue trends with the community and empowers members to increase their income through cash rewards, grant programs, and other opportunities. The company says the average member has increased their income by $ 5,500 since signing up.

With its large base and knowledge of subscribers’ financial needs, Steady has also been able to help distribute public benefits. Since 2017, the company has been working with state and local governments to help pay unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Many part-time workers and entrepreneurs struggle to find ways to qualify for public programs; Steady automates the process for faster, more accurate delivery. For example, he works with the Louisiana Workforce Commission to verify income of 1099 and hourly workers for pandemic and disaster relief.

Given its proven distribution capability, Steady began testing an emergency cash grant program funded largely by the Workers Lab, a nonprofit dedicated to defending workers’ rights. “We could see when a 1,099 gig worker had an income shock,” says Roseman; Steady provided these workers with one-time grants of $ 100 to $ 1,000, deposited automatically. It collected data on participants’ spending habits, outgoing payments and the speed at which they recovered. It has rolled out the grants program on a large scale during the pandemic and, with the help of various nonprofits, has so far disbursed $ 4 million.

This method of unconditional payments is essentially a guaranteed income program. Through its collaboration with MGI, Steady obtains the list of recipients from participating cities, who download the app, create an account and link their bank account for direct deposit. With each payment period, Steady automatically sends the money to each bank account. Due to the strong community that it’s already assembled, in some cases Steady also coordinates the initial selection of recipients once it has the requirements of targeting a city.

Roseman says that in addition to the ease of automated payments to recipients that it enables, the Steady platform offers the advantage of real-time data collection. Some cities choose to use a local bank or prepaid debit cards instead. “We’re definitely in favor of it, but it doesn’t solve the measurement problem,” he says. Since most of the data comes from bank deposits, using the recipients’ usual bank accounts provides a “fuller financial picture”.

The data is important because MGI’s ultimate goal is to influence policy at the federal level by demonstrating the success of guaranteed income pilot programs. The coalition is working with the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania, founded specifically to consolidate learnings from pilot programs to advocate for a national version. Although there are interim reports, the end goal is to publish a broad and coordinated assessment of all results after the pilot programs are completed. “Power will be the result of all the cities that together publish their results in a unified way,” said Roseman.

Currently, Steady manages the distribution of money for eight MGI programs, including the Tacoma pilot, and other active experiments in Atlanta; in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and in Providence, Rhode Island. Upcoming pilots are expected to be launched in Pittsburgh; Baltimore; and Gainesville, Fla., the latter of which will launch Jan. 15 and send $ 7,600 over one year to those formerly incarcerated. Separated from MGI, Steady managed distribution in three now-completed pilot programs run by Humanity Forward (the non-profit association of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang) in Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; and Nashville, Tennessee.

Looking at the data so far, Roseman says it echoes findings from other reports that have shown long-held myths about cash aid to be false, including that recipients don’t spend their money wisely. or they stop working. He saw that beneficiaries are able to increase their income faster with the comfort of aid; they can worry less about day-to-day expenses and instead focus on finding long-term work. The result, he says, is that “you see people going back to work much faster than they would have if they hadn’t received the grant.”

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