Young parents in Baltimore are getting $1,000 a month, no strings attached, a deal so good some 'thought it was a scam'


Tazhane Jordan, a young mother living in difficult circumstances, found herself on the brink of losing her most valued possession, a car, while pregnant and sharing the space with her daughter who requires specialized care. However, a lifeline was extended to her in the form of the Baltimore Young Families Success Fund. Through this program, Jordan, along with 200 other young parents, was selected to receive $1,000 every month for a span of two years, with no conditions attached. The program, sponsored by the city and the nonprofit CASH Campaign of Maryland, aims to explore the impact of providing direct cash assistance to individuals facing poverty.

Initially, Jordan used the money to cover her lease payments, allowing her to keep the car. She later moved into a proper house where she now resides with her partner, their children, and her fiancé's children from a previous relationship. What Jordan values most about the program is the autonomy it grants her to decide how her family's needs are prioritized. She appreciates the flexibility of being able to utilize the funds for various expenses, such as gasoline, household essentials, and childcare. There is no requirement for participants to utilize the funds in a specific way, as the program aims to trust individuals to make decisions that best suit their circumstances.

The CASH Campaign of Maryland provides financial literacy education to participants, but enrollment in their programs is not obligatory. The goal is to support families without imposing restrictions or judgment on how the funds are spent. While surveys indicate that participants typically allocate the money towards bills, groceries, and transportation, the program acknowledges that personal needs may vary. The overarching belief is that individuals should have the freedom to spend the funds in a manner they deem best for themselves and their families, without facing condemnation or scrutiny.

It is important to note that the program does not make participants wealthy, as the monthly sum of $1,000 is often not sufficient to cover all their financial needs. Rather, the financial assistance serves as a cushion to help families stay afloat and avoid homelessness. A participant in the program shared their excitement about being able to plan a small birthday celebration for their child, emphasizing the significance of being able to enjoy such moments without facing criticism.

Jordan, who aspires to pursue a career in medical care for children with disabilities, expresses her gratitude for the trust placed in participants of the program. She finds solace in knowing that the funds provided have offered stability to her family and prevented them from experiencing homelessness. In response to those who may question the deservingness of such assistance, Jordan believes that everyone can benefit from a helping hand, regardless of whether they are hard-working or not. In a city like Baltimore, where a significant portion of the population lives below the poverty line, Jordan emphasizes the universal need for support and assistance.  

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