City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams wants to expand guaranteed income pilot programs that give cash-strapped New Yorkers money with no strings attached as a way to reduce poverty.

Adams, who heads the first female-majority council, will propose a $5 million program to fund organizations that have already launched versions of a guaranteed income during her State of the City address on Wednesday.

The speaker said in a statement that giving low-income people and families unconditional cash stipends could help uplift communities in need, particularly women.

“Women are the cornerstone of society and the backbones of our families. When women are healthy and have access to opportunity, our children, families and communities thrive,” said Adams. “We will continue to advance solutions for New Yorkers whose needs have too often been marginalized because when we respond through this lens of equity, all New Yorkers win.”

Backers of the idea argue that many welfare programs have complicated eligibility requirements that exclude a lot of people who are eligible. A guaranteed income program is simpler: Give people the cash and let them decide how to spend it.

Other major cities throughout the nation — like Chicago and Los Angeles — are also exploring unrestricted cash assistance for residents to use as needed. In New York City, the conversation over the idea reached a crescendo during the Democratic mayoral primary in 2021 as Andrew Yang’s campaign centered around creating a so-called universal basic income to combat poverty.

Statewide, New York is creating a pathway for a cash-assistance program for runaway and homeless youth through legislation that was signed into law late last year.

Under Adams’ plan, the Council would identify and fund organizations like the Bridge Project, which gives expecting mothers monthly cash payments for three years.

More than 1 in 4 Black children and nearly 1 in 3 Hispanic children in New York City live in poverty, according to the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York.

“It is really exciting to see this investment from the City Council and it’s definitely the most significant we've seen in direct cash by New York leaders,” Megha Agarwal, executive director at the Bridge Project, told Gothamist. “It's important in kind of ground setting in that way.”

The Bridge Project currently has 600 mothers participating in its guaranteed income programs in select neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, Agarwal said. Each mother receives $1,000 a month for the first 18 months and $500 a month for the last 18 months.

“For us, it's really thinking about how can we make sure that those three years are the most stable time period as possible for a family such that they can invest in a child's development,” said Agarwal.

The Bridge Project plans to set up guaranteed income pilot programs across all five boroughs by this summer and outside of New York City by the end of the year, according to Agarwal.

“I think when you think about the sustainability of a program like this, it really does need to come from public dollars,” Agarwal said.