On the Road to Resilience: New Data Dashboard Shows Ithaca Caregivers Buying Necessities While Seeking Stability
IGI and IEDD projects helping local families find help and restoration
Ithaca Guaranteed Income (IGI) and its partner Mayors for a Guaranteed Income have rolled out the pilot projects’ initial spending data and demographic results, which show a diverse group of Ithaca caregivers spending IGI’s cash payments while forging a path toward greater stability for their families.
The local data dashboard also has links to data from MGI projects across the US. Together, they show that families in Ithaca and around the country are using their need-based cash payments to cover necessities in an uncertain economy — providing them with the opportunity, freedom and resilience they need to build financial security.
Here, Ithaca Guaranteed Income’s pilot project is providing 110 caregivers with an unconditional cash payment of $450 per month through May of 2023.
Initial IGI data shows the three biggest categories of expenditures in IGI were food and groceries (34.84%), financial transactions (28.12%) and retail sales and services (19.23%).
- 35% was spent at grocery stores.
- 28% went toward fees and charges paid to financial institutions for loans, account set-up, maintenance, and other services.
- 19% of the funds were spent at retailers and discount superstores on things like food, clothes, household goods and hygiene products.
- 7% was spent on transportation costs like gas and car repair.
- 6% went to housing and utilities.
- Other expenses included loan repayments, medical expenses and tuition.
“We can see that by providing cash payments, programs like IGI are effective tools in improving racial and gender equity,” said Liddy Bargar, the Director of Housing Initiatives at the Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County (HSCTC).
The Ithaca program targeted unpaid caregivers and was open to all races and genders, yet the funds reached higher proportions of women and people of color because systemic racism and sexism make it harder for them to achieve financial freedom. The Ithaca caregivers in the program were quite diverse:
- 74% of participants identified as women, 23% men, 3% non-binary.
- 29% of participants identified as Black or African American.
- 2% identified as Latinx.
- 12% identified that they were of mixed descent.
- 52% identified as White.
"I’m so pleased that the Ithaca Guaranteed Income program is providing our caregiving residents with this much-needed financial support,” said Acting Mayor Laura Lewis. “Individuals engaged in caregiving for others may be underpaid or uncompensated, yet the work they do is vital. This no-strings-attached cash payment is a unique and important opportunity for people to direct funds to their greatest needs. Who better to decide how they should spend it?"
Cindy Wilcox, HSCTC’s executive director, was also encouraged by the initial findings.
“The data released today demonstrate the potential of guaranteed income programs in helping to tackle issues of inequality and injustice in Ithaca and beyond,” Wilcox said. “Cash helps bring everyone to the economic table.”
With cash payments seeming like an effective solution, IGI can be used with other tools and programs, which Ithaca residents can learn about through the Ithaca Eviction/Displacement Defense project, which also oversees IGI through a partnership with HSCTC, the Ithaca Mayor’s office and MGI. IEDD support also came from Enterprise Community Partners.
IGI was born out of the pandemic, joining other IEDD tools to help Ithacans. For example, IEDD helped frantic tenants who were resigned to eviction and maybe even homelessness find pro bono legal representation from teams at Cornell Law School and LawNY (both IEDD partners along with the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency). IEDD advocates from HSCTC and its 2-1-1 program patiently walked the affected residents through an alphabet soup of local, state and federal programs and resources.
The success of those housing-related programs is hinted at in the initial IGI data, which also demonstrate that caregivers used the cash on other immediate needs, like paying for groceries and prescriptions as well as transportation to work and doctor’s appointments.
“The data indicate that in Ithaca, a well-administered guaranteed income program empowers people and provides a level of economic stability that can be life-changing for many. We look forward to learning more as the program continues through 2023,” Wilcox said.
Contact: Liddy Bargar, Director of Housing Initiatives
Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County