The application period has begun for Los Angeles County’s guaranteed income program, which will provide 1,000 randomly selected residents with $1,000 a month for three years.
To qualify for the “Breathe: LA County’s Guaranteed Income Program,” applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a household income under $56,000 for a single person or $96,000 for a family of four and have experienced negative impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants will receive the money through a debit card, and there are no strings attached or conditions to the income.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly Mitchell formally opened the application period Thursday at a news conference at Community Coalition headquarters.
“The financial uncertainty and varying depths of poverty that millions of our constituents experience day to day cannot be addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach. Now is our opportunity to invest in support that directly reaches our residents,” Mitchell said previously.
“…It’s time that we trust that our residents know how best to meet their needs when given the resources to do so. Across the country, guaranteed income has already proven to reduce poverty, improve the long-term well-being of families, and give residents living on the edge of a fiscal cliff the support to breathe a bit easier.”
Marshall Bell, who was waiting in line at Community Coalition to apply for the program, said the money will help him cover his bills.
“The pandemic hit me pretty hard, you know, and it would do some help for me,” Bell told KCAL9. “I am … low income and I don’t have nothing, and I thank God if I can apply for something, it’s good for me.”
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the motion, introduced by Mitchell and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, to create the program on May 18, 2021. The motion also declared poverty and economic opportunity a public health matter.
“The course of this pandemic has revealed the large number of county residents who are living on the brink of financial crisis, with insufficient savings to weather a job loss, a medical emergency or a major car repair,” Kuehl said.
“This guaranteed income program will help give residents the breathing room they need to better weather those crises. There is ample evidence from guaranteed income projects around the country that financial support, coupled with the freedom to make their own decisions about how best to spend their money, offers families the flexibility they need to establish stability and invest in a more prosperous future for themselves.”
Los Angeles County’s Poverty Alleviation Initiative will oversee the program, and a research team from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research will randomly select qualified applicants. The team will also study long-term impacts the income has on residents’ economic well being.
The deadline for enrollment is April 13. For more details, call (213) 342-1003.