To the editor:
I was stunned to read about the city’s new ARISE pilot program, from “City to launch guaranteed income pilot” in the Oct. 20 edition of the Times, which will provide a guaranteed income of $500 per month to 170 participants for the next two years.
According to the city’s official website, applicants who qualify will be “randomly selected” from the application pool, meaning that the benefits will be distributed like a lottery without taking into account any specific individual factors that could help distinguish more needy applicants from others. But the program is even more fundamentally flawed. The cash payments will be provided with “no strings attached,” allowing participants to spend the money however they see fit and with no requirement for work, job training or school. This is a terrible mistake. A better approach would have been to use the money to provide job training or other skill building assistance. This would have transformed the program from a free handout lasting only two years, into something that will benefit the recipients for the rest of their lives. What a missed opportunity.
-C.J. Wenk, Alexandria