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Can Cash Payments Help Atlanta’s Poor? | AJC

Almost three years ago, a simple yet radical experiment was begun in Stockton, Calif., based on an idea floated by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. more than half a century ago.

With no strings attached, 125 low-income residents were given $500 a month for two years.

They spent their money on food, clothes, home goods, auto costs and utilities or saved it as a cushion for emergencies. Many were spurred to find better jobs. Most reported feeling a greater sense of well-being and less anxiety and depression, organizers said

Buzz Brockway, a former Republican state legislator now at the right-leaning think tank Georgia Center for Opportunity, said he’s open to programs that provide a flexible hand-up for low-income families. But he said such initiatives should be focused on people who are working, actively seeking a job or in a training program.

“We think that what’s important is that people begin to earn their way to self-sufficiency,” he said.

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