RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A small group of Richmonders in need of financial assistance received $500 a month from the city for a year. There were 18 people enrolled in a two-year pilot program. The participants have reported benefits from the program and the mayor’s office is vying for state funding to continue the initiative.
“It’s been a blessing to me,” Montell Jones said during a panel discussion hosted by Reynolds Community College, and moderated by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.
Jones is among the beneficiaries of the Richmond Resilience Initiative, targeted towards people who recently became ineligible for SNAP benefits.
A truck driver, and father of three, Jones said “we’re not looking for a handout, we get up every morning to go provide for our family, but that doesn’t exempt us from going through a struggle.”
Richmond received money last year for the pilot program from a national mayoral association, Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. However, the money was originally donated by then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Alvin Allen, a city garbage man, said he has been trying to improve his life since getting out of jail 12 years ago. He detailed that the extra cash has helped him make even more strides.
“For most people who don’t have a plan there’s a Plan B. Something that you can fall back on,” Allen said.
Peggy Morris, who works in childhood intervention at an elementary school, said the money has covered a range of expenses from fresh food at the grocery store, to emergency expenses.
“I had two flat tires,” Morris said.
“I have to go to work every day, I need those tires, I didn’t want to run around with a donut and the $500 came in handy.“
Stoney said he wants the program to expand, and include 50 people to get the support. A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said the program becoming long-term will likely going to depend on if state lawmakers decide to fund the initiative in the future.