Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe spoke Thursday night at the second of three panel discussions about offering guaranteed income payments to certain city residents.
The discussion focused on how cash policies would affect marginalized communities, particularly people of color.
“I think it all starts with basic dignity. Poverty is not a consequence of character. It’s a systemic problem and you don’t solve poverty by wishing it away,” Poe said.
Charles Booker, a former member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, also gave remarks at the meeting. He said guaranteed income will disrupt a system of poverty that affects communities like his.
“Ultimately, we have to understand how important it is to invest in people. And universal basic income is critical to me—to chart a new course. When you understand, like I do, how we have built a system that criminalizes poverty, how do you disrupt that?” Booker said.
Poe said he plans to focus these efforts on those that have re-entered society after incarceration with monthly payments of $600 for 24 months.
“Poverty is created by human beings and therefore can be solved by human beings. So, that’s the approach we’re taking. In Gainesville, we have chosen to focus specifically on returning citizens who have been incarcerated,” he said.
The mayor hopes to have the first payments out by Oct. 1.