L.A. guaranteed income: Applications open for pilot program providing $1,000 monthly payments

Local news

Los Angeles residents can begin applying Friday for a 12-month guaranteed income pilot program that will provide $1,000 monthly payments to more than 3,000 residents, “no strings attached,” officials said.

The program, dubbed BIG:LEAP, will provide recipients with the unconditional direct cash payments for one year. There will be no restrictions on how the money can be spent, according to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Those interested can apply online at bigleap.lacity.org starting 8 a.m. Friday. The 10-day application period closes at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 7.

Once a participant’s eligibility for the program is confirmed, they will get a debit card that will be loaded with $1,000 every month. The first payment is expected in January 2022.

“No strings attached, no obligations, no work requirements,” Garcetti said.

Recipients will be randomly selected from applicants aged 18 and older who meet these eligibility requirements:

  • Must be an adult with at least one dependent, or be pregnant
  • Must be a resident of the City of Los Angeles
  • Must have an income at or below the federal poverty level
  • Experienced medical or economic impact due to COVID-19

L.A. City Councilman Curren Price is opening six assistance centers in South L.A. to help families with the application process. Residents in need of help can head to Price’s district office at 4301 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Ascot Branch Library, All Peoples Community Center, Vermont Square Branch Library or Junipero Serra Branch Library.

Those who need help applying can also call 311 to get a list of other locations providing assistance.

Garcetti said BIG:LEAP is the “the largest guaranteed basic income program anywhere in the United States of America.”

“We’re taking a big leap forward in our generational fight to end poverty,” the mayor said in a news conference Wednesday.

Price said more than one-fourth of the guaranteed income program’s recipients will come from his district.

“Council District 9 is home to some of the most marginalized communities in the Country. It has the highest percentage of individuals living in poverty in all of LA,” Price said. “Here is where more than 780 families will be turning a corner.”

Garcetti in his budget proposed a $24-million guaranteed basic income project, and the amount grew to $38 million after L.A. City Council members made additional investments, according to the mayor’s office

The program is being paid for with taxpayer funds, including approximately $11 million that was taken from the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget after last year’s racial justice protests, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Last year, the mayor launched the Angeleno card program, with people who lost income due to the pandemic receiving with prepaid debit cards.

“People say if you give poor people money, they’re going to spend it recklessly. Well, let me debunk that myth,” Garcetti said.

Anonymized data tracking found that Angeleno card recipients spent the money on food, rent, health care and on their children, the mayor added.

The effects of BIG:LEAP will be studied too.

Applicants not chosen to receive monthly cash deposits will be randomly selected to participate as a control group to help the city see the changes each group had depending on their access to the monthly cash deposit.

“Our academic partners are going to show the impact of a guaranteed basic income on people’s mental health, on their food security, on their housing, security, employment, on their houseless-ness, on parenting, family dynamics, and so much more.”

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