News Release - Mayor Warren Announces Effort to Explore Reparations, Universal Basic Income and Home Ownership

City of Rochester

News Release

Initiative Seeks to Use Potential Marijuana Tax Revenue & Other Funding to Close the Wealth Gap between Black, Brown & White Residents

(Friday, Mar. 26, 2021) – Mayor Lovely A. Warren announced today an initiative to explore the implementation of reparations, including the possible establishment of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) program, as well as a home ownership program.

“The recent report by the RASE Commission made plain the stark realities that exist in our community and included a strong call for all of us to take action to address these historic inequities,” said Mayor Warren. “Beyond changing policies and procedures, we must do more to close the wealth gap between Black and Brown people and our White neighbors. The impending legalization of marijuana in New York State presents us with a new opportunity to bring real resources to bear to uplift our families and improve, not only their financial well-being, but their very future.”

Mayor Warren announced the establishment of an exploratory committee charged with reviewing existing Universal Basic Income and reparation pilots in other cities to see how a life-altering program can be developed for Rochester. The committee will be chaired by City Chief of Staff Brittaney Wells and Chief Equity Officer Dr. Cephas Archie. The Mayor has sent invitations to City Council, along with numerous community and philanthropic organizations, including the Urban League, United Way, RMAPI, ABC, IBERO, YMCA, ESL, Farash Foundation, Rochester Area Community Foundation and the Faith Roundtable to participate in the effort. Others will be included as the effort progresses.

“The City, through its Office of Community Wealth Building, has done a lot to assist our residents with financial empowerment,” the Mayor continued. “However, we know that we can’t do it alone. It will take a community-wide effort to right the historic wrongs that have plagued our community and country for years. Today, we have a chance to right these wrongs and create generational wealth for our children. Thankfully, there are many other cities that can serve as examples and provide data to support the creation of these initiatives in Rochester. Just this week, Oakland, CA and Evanston, IL adopted legislation to begin similar programs in their cities. It is also important to note that historically, the concept of a UBI has had wide support, including from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and former President Richard Nixon.”

Mayor Warren is seeking to establish the committee in April and have them complete a review of existing programs in other communities and make recommendations for next steps. This new effort continues the City’s quest to achieve equity and fairness for everyone through more jobs, safer more vibrant neighborhoods and greater educational opportunities.

In addition to the creation of the exploratory committee, Mayor Warren announced that she is seeking to join Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) and she submitted an application to do so. MGI is a collection of approximately 30 mayors throughout the nation who have implemented Universal Basic Income pilot programs or are working to do so. Mayor Warren hopes the organization can provide additional support and guidance to Rochester’s efforts. More information about MGI can be found at