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City launches $16M Seattle Relief Fund — Meanwhile, ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ program plan proposed for 2022

The city is launching a new $16 million Seattle Relief Fund designed to provide households during the pandemic from $1,000 to $3,000 in financial support. Meanwhile, a program to set the groundwork for a larger Universal Basic Income system in the city could move forward during the ongoing 2022 budget process.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office announced the new relief fund Monday for “households that were unable to access state unemployment, had no health insurance, didn’t receive federal stimulus payments, or experienced housing instability or mental health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic” —

Award amounts are between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on household size. The fund is open to all eligible Seattle residents regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. Eligible applicants must be 18 years old or older, have incomes under 50 percent of Seattle’s area median income (less than $40,500 for an individual or $57,850 for a family of four), and have at least one of these situations apply to the individual or to a household member: 

  • Live within the boundaries of the city of Seattle, or
  • Be enrolled in the Seattle Promise program, or
  • Be enrolled in Seattle Public Schools, or
  • Be an artist/cultural worker who has owned or rented an art studio or rehearsal space within the boundaries of the City of Seattle at any time since March 2020.

Applicants can access the online application in one of eight languages. In-language help to assist with application completion is offered from community-based organizations (see below). 

The Seattle Relief Fund dollars are part of a $25 million investment in the Seattle Rescue Plan passed by the Seattle City Council in June.

Meanwhile, council president and mayoral candidate Lorena González says she is pushing forward a proposed $750,000 budget item that would direct the Department of Neighborhoods to “develop and implement” a “Guaranteed Basic Income program.”


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