“This city-wide, anonymous and peer-to-peer solidarity campaign will not only provide relief in the face of rising levels of urban poverty, but it will also help reduce social and political polarization by building bridges between different segments of society.” Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu
Fostering citywide mutual aid
During the first year of the pandemic, 25 percent of Istanbul households applied for social aid. The city tripled its social-assistance budget but still wasn’t able to meet the overwhelming demand. In response, city officials created “Pay-it- forward,” an alternative social-support and solidarity program that anonymously matches people burdened by unpaid utility bills and other needs with those willing provide financial assistance. This large-scale city-led experiment in mutual aid also seeks to bridge the political divide and foster social solidarity among residents even beyond times of crisis.