The idea of guaranteed income has been around for years. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang frequently discussed this topic while on the campaign trail a few years ago.

Now several cities across the country are experimenting with universal basic income. That includes the city of Hudson.

Jahed Miah is a double major at SUNY New Paltz, studying biology and biochemistry. Like most college students, he’s got some hefty bills to pay between rent, tuition and books.

What You Need To Know

  • Over the next five years, 25 city residents will be receiving $500 a month

  • Residents who made $35,000 or less annually qualified

  • It's being funded by Andrew Yang's Humanity Forward Foundation

Miah has mostly relied on loans to make ends meet. But he got some relief last fall when Miah was selected to be part of a unique opportunity.

“Honestly, I would have never [thought] that Hudson would’ve been the location of a UBI pilot in America,” Miah said.

He’s currently one of 25 city residents participating in the Hudson Universal Basic Income pilot program. Over the next five years, these individuals will receive $500 a month. The first deposit was made in October.

“We were the only small city to launch a UBI program at the time, and we are also the longest running at five years,” said Joan Hunt, the pilot director for Hudson Up.

Residents who made $35,000 or less annually qualified. Hunt says they received 1,100 applications, but only 400 were eligible, and the number was then narrowed to 25 through a weighted lottery system.

“What really intrigued the funders about Hudson was the size, being 2.2 square miles, and the potential impact of a pilot like this not only on the individual recipients but on the broader community,” Hunt said.

The founder: Spark of Hudson and Yang’s Humanity Forward Foundation. Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson spoke with Yang, currently running for mayor of New York City, about the pilot program ahead of its launch last year.

“It turns out that most people do great things with economic resources because it’s in their hands and they know best how to solve their own problems,” Yang said.

Yang and Hunt say they are going to be looking at more variables than the financial impact. That includes long-term effect on family dynamics, mental health and careers.

While there has been little push-back locally, Hunt argues research show people don’t stop working due to UBI since living off of $500 a month would be a major challenge. She also believes the stimulus checks changed perceptions.

“We really believe in financial freedom for families and their ability to meet immediate needs,” Hunt said.

For Miah, the money is helping take financial burden off his family. He’ll be graduating in December with a goal of attending medical school.

“I don’t have to stay up at night worry about my rent and I can stay focus on my studies and support myself without being a financial burden on my family has been immensely nice,” Miah said. “It’s been really nice.”