An Unconditional Cash Transfer Program for Low-Income New Yorkers Affected by COVID-19

Samantha Lily Kumar, Alessandra Calvo-Friedman, Amy L. Freeman, Daniela Fazio, Amanda K. Johnson, Fionnuala Seiferth, Jenifer Clapp, Nichola J. Davis, Maryanne Schretzman, Bethany Springer, Harmony N. Arcilla, Sue A. Kaplan, Carolyn A. Berry, Kelly M. Doran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early in the pandemic, New York City’s public hospital system partnered with multiple philanthropic foundations to offer an unconditional cash transfer program for low-income New Yorkers affected by COVID-19. The $1000 cash transfers were designed to help people meet their most immediate health and social needs and were incorporated into healthcare delivery and contact tracing workflows as a response to the public health emergency. To better understand program recipients’ experiences, researchers conducted 150 telephone surveys with randomly sampled cash transfer recipients and 20 in-depth qualitative interviews with purposefully sampled survey participants. Survey participants were predominantly Latinx (87%) and women (65%). The most common reported uses of the $1000 were food and rent. Most participants (79%) reported that without the $1000 cash transfer they would have had difficulty paying for basic expenses or making ends meet, with specific positive effects reported related to food, housing, and ability to work. The majority of survey participants reported that receiving the cash assistance somewhat or greatly improved their physical health (83%) and mental health (89%). Qualitative interview results generally supported the survey findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-28
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Cash assistance
  • Cash transfer
  • Food insecurity
  • Housing insecurity
  • Public hospital systems
  • Social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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