PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Providence on Tuesday joined a small but growing number of U.S. cities pledging to provide a guaranteed monthly income to a certain number of low-income residents.

Under the Providence Guaranteed Income pilot program announced by Mayor Jorge Elorza and others, 110 city families living at or under 200% of the federal poverty level are eligible to apply for the opportunity to receive $500 a month for 12 months.

The unconditional cash payments are intended to supplement, rather than replace, existing social safety net programs and can be used as the recipient sees fit, such as for unpredictable expenses, officials said.

The $1.1 million to fund the program is coming from private and philanthropic sources, and no tax dollars will be used, he said.

“The global pandemic has highlighted the inequities of our social safety net and exacerbated the disparities of health and wealth that exist for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color,” Elorza said in a statement. “The best way to protect the longterm health and wellbeing of our communities is by providing direct financial assistance to our residents.”

Similar programs in other cities have proven successful in improving the quality of life, health and education, state Sen. Tiara Mack, D-Providence, said.

“When families can get their most basic needs met — food, housing, health care — they are able to focus on improving and advancing their current lives and focus on their futures,” she said.

Applications for the program will be accepted online and through the mail from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21. Recipients will be selected at random. A control group will also be selected and used to understand the impact of guaranteed income by comparing two similar groups of people: one that receives guaranteed income and one that does not.

Before the signup, the city will hold several information sessions about the program and will conduct outreach to residents.

Providence will also partner with the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania to research the effects of the program.

Elorza is a member of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition of more than 50 municipal leaders that are attempting to implement their own versions of a monthly cash benefit program.

Similar programs have been launched or are being planned in other cities, including Saint Paul, Minnesota; Columbia, South Carolina; and Los Angeles.

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