Durham’s Excel program is making a difference in the lives of many residents, helping them alleviate financial burdens and stay out of the criminal justice system. The guaranteed income pilot program, launched last year, provides extra cash to individuals, and according to program overseer Syreeta Hill, the results have been promising.
Hill explained that the program offers $600 a month for a year to 109 formerly incarcerated individuals. This unrestricted money has proven to be effective in helping participants take care of their basic needs. Tydricka Lewis, one of the beneficiaries, shared how the program has been a lifeline for her and her family.
“It allowed me to get decent transportation for my children and myself,” Lewis said. “Helps me get back and forth to work. I’m in school and run everyday errands.”
Despite facing some backlash, city leaders have emphasized that the program is not simply giving money away but rather empowering individuals to meet their financial responsibilities. Mayor Pro Tem Mark-Anthony Middleton addressed the criticism head-on, stating, “Surprise surprise folks paid bills and did things for their kids.”
In order to expand and sustain the program’s impact, the city has allocated $1 million for the next group of participants. Middleton highlighted the economic benefits of guaranteed income programs, comparing them to stimulus checks distributed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During COVID-19, if we sent a check to people with jobs, we call it stimulus because it stimulates the economy,” Middleton explained. “If we do it regularly for everybody, it’s called subsidized pathology. It’s a good economic practice. It betters the economy.”
Durham’s Excel program has gained national attention as guaranteed income initiatives continue to be implemented across the country. The positive outcomes reported by individuals like Tydricka Lewis and the support from city leaders have propelled the program forward. The second group of participants may be selected as early as the spring of next year, marking another step towards economic empowerment and social welfare in Durham.
The Excel program’s success in helping individuals meet their basic needs and avoid the criminal justice system serves as an example of the potential benefits of guaranteed income programs. As Durham continues to invest in this initiative, it remains to be seen how it will influence the national conversation surrounding economic support for individuals and families in need.
More detail via abc11 News here… ( Image via abc11 News )