PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Would an extra $500 a month help? If you already earn good money, it might not make a difference. But for people living in poverty, Mayor Bill Peduto thinks it could change their lives.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller sat down one-on-one with Mayor Peduto on Thursday to talk about why Pittsburgh joined 15 other cities to take part in a new pilot program for “guaranteed income.”

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“A number of people in the city of Pittsburgh will be chosen to be able to receive a monthly stipend, basically a debit card,” said Mayor Peduto.

He said the “guaranteed income” means an extra $500 a month. The city will jump-start the program using a portion of the $10 million from Jack Dorsey at Twitter.

Mayor Peduto said he is looking for three qualities in the people selected:

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  • People who are struggling financially
  • The ability to have it change their lives
  • People from different types of demographics and backgrounds to be able to do a study

Mayor Peduto said the study will look to answer multiple questions, such as, “Does their health improve? Do their children do better in school? Is there a less likely chance that they end up back in jail?”

He’ll join Mayor Melvin Carter from St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms from Atlanta, Georgia, and Mayor Michael Tubbs from Stockton, California.

The program launched in Stockton 18 months ago. Mayor Peduto said the people are “not spending the money on alcohol and cigarettes” but rather basic necessities.

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“The money being spent in the way that we spend money. It’s on rent, it’s on healthcare, it’s on food, it’s on the basic necessities, but it has changed people’s lives,” said Mayor Peduto.

Meghan Schiller