Guaranteed Income Program Begins for 1,000 Los Angeles County Residents

By Sophie Li
Sophie Li
Sophie Li
August 31, 2022 Updated: September 6, 2022

LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles County’s guaranteed basic income program is underway, with 1,000 residents receiving $1,000 monthly for the next three years, officials said on Aug. 30.

The recipients were chosen randomly from more than 180,000 people who applied for the program.

“Given the huge number of L.A. County residents who applied, it’s abundantly clear that a guaranteed basic income is an idea whose time has come,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “I’m confident that we will see what other pilots have already shown: that a guaranteed basic income, by giving people a bit of financial breathing room, allows them to stabilize their lives and that of their family.

“Three years from now, I feel confident that this LA County program will be seen as a foundation stone that led to expanded programs providing economic opportunity and stability to every eligible American household.”

The county Board of Supervisors voted to develop the pilot program last year to address poverty and income instability.

Participants 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.

The LA County participants were chosen by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income, which is researching guaranteed income programs across the country.

Recipients receive the money via debit card. They range in age from 18 to 91 and live in communities throughout the county, speaking languages including Armenian, Cantonese, Farsi, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish and English, according to officials with Breathe: LA County’s Guaranteed Income Program.

The program administrator, Strength Based Community Change, will keep in touch with the selected participants and assist them throughout the duration of the program to help them reach their personal and financial goals, officials said.

The pilot program is based on a similar program in Stockton, California, that has been praised for its success. The City of Los Angeles also introduced its own program, called BIG:LEAP, last year.

Currently, in California, 12 cities are implementing a guaranteed basic income pilot program.

Stockton Mayor Michael D. Tubbs founded Mayors for a Guaranteed Income in June 2020. Following his steps, more mayors across the country joined the program—including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sacramento Mayor Darryl Steinberg, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and former Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.

Nationwide, 82 mayors of 29 states had joined the organization as of 2022, according to a report from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. A total of $200 million will be distributed nationwide to recipients of these programs this year.

City News Service contributed to the report.

Sophie Li