Monroe County families earn extra $500 per month

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Five hundred dollars per month, that’s how much 50 families in Monroe County will receive through the Direct Cash Transfer Research Pilot Program. Families were refererred by the State Office of Children and Family Services.

That initiative, which launched on Wednesday, is similar to Rochester’s Guaranteed Basic Income Program, where families had to apply before being selected. Both provide the same amount of money over the course of 12 months, $6,000, the only difference is how families were picked: Being referred by the state, or applying.

Thalia Wright, Monroe County Commissioner of Human Services says, “This program marks a turning point in our approach and how we support members of our community and our children and families in need.”

Monroe County joins both Onondaga, and Westchester counties in the brand-new direct cash transfer initiative.

“They have identified families specifically that have navigated the child welfare system and have come in with allegations related to not meeting those basic needs,” said Wright.

The plan is the first of its kind in the country, tracking the impact of how an extra $500 per month will impact the future of these families.

“The hopes are that the research and the data will prove itself and that the state and federal partners will look at this funding as more of a preventative solution and we will move from 50 families to 500 families to 5,000 families, and the families here in Monroe County can get the financial support they need and they deserve just to maintain their households,” said Wright.

Families will get the $500 each month on a debit card. Gail Geohagen-Pratt, Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services says there’s no restrictions on what families can buy.

“When it comes to really basic needs, that’s where being able to have the resources to be able to pay bills, to put food on the table, to have a safe and stable home,” said Geohagen-Pratt.

We asked her about the possibility of families participating in both initiatives.

“As part of the application process there was a self-asked question that if a family was participating in another guaranteed income research pilot that they would self-attest to that and that would exclude participation in both,” said Geohagen-Pratt.

The first round of payments went out this month. The program is funded by federal, state and private funds with a future goal of expanding across the state.