THRIVE: Providing Cash Relief to DC Residents Hit Hardest by the Pandemic

When the pandemic hit, the THRIVE East of the River (THRIVE) partnership in Washington, DC, began providing direct cash payments and grocery assistance to up to 500 households in Ward 8, where most residents are Black and one-third have incomes below the federal poverty level. The cash transfer program appears to provide the largest short-term private emergency cash relief payment offered in the United States.

THRIVE grew out of an existing partnership of four community-based organizations (CBOs) to address the pandemic’s disproportionate economic impact on their clients. The partner CBOs include Martha’s Table, Bread for the City, the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, and the 11th Street Bridge Park (a Building Bridges Across the River project). The Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s DC office and the Urban Institute are supporting partners.

The partnership seeks to achieve the following:

  • alleviate crisis by providing families with immediate access to cash, healthy food, and dry goods as they await government aid and the return of a normally functioning labor market
  • stabilize families by connecting families to the full range of government resources for which they are eligible, including tax credits, unemployment insurance, and health and safety net programs
  • foster mobility by assisting families in securing a more resilient future

THRIVE’s centerpiece is to distribute $5,500 to enrolled households, delivered in one payment or monthly payments of approximately $1,100 each. It also provides weekly groceries and assistance securing other resources, such as government relief funds to interested participants.

Urban’s role is to document the emergency intervention’s effectiveness and provide data and evidence to inform ongoing program design and management. Insights can contribute to any discussion of how cash infusion might alleviate crisis, reduce income inequality, and advance equity. In collaboration with the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, Urban has also stood up a team of community researchers, who live in Ward 8, to assist with data collection and analysis on the effort.

We will publish a summary report on THRIVE outcomes and implementation in mid-2021. THRIVE-related blog posts are listed below.

An Innovative Program Provides Cash Relief to DC Residents Hit Hardest by COVID-19
Mary Bogle, August 2020

Insights from a DC Cash Relief Program Can Inform Discussions about Federal Cash-Based Policies
Mary Bogle, December 2020

How Cash Infusions Can Prevent Evictions for Families Most Affected by COVID-19
Peace Gwam and Peter A. Tatian, March 2021

Which DC Residents Haven’t Gotten Their Economic Impact Payments Yet?
Elaine Maag, March 2021