LOS ANGELES—Qualifying Los Angeles residents can now apply to the county’s new basic income pilot program, which will provide $1,000 per month for the next three years to aid those suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures.
The county will select 1,000 random applicants who meet certain requirements regarding the size of their household and their annual income, ranging from making less than $56,000 per year for a single-person household to $216,000 per year for a family of four.
Residents must also reside within the county, be 18 years of age or older, be negatively affected financially by the pandemic, and not be enrolled in other county, city, or private income programs.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who co-introduced the motion with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, said it’s time for such a program to be in place locally for the “millions of our constituents” living with financial uncertainty and poverty.
“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,” Mitchell said.
But amid an ongoing employee shortage, some small business owners say they fear basic income will further deter people from returning to work.
The program will “negatively impact” the local economy, whether it’s “temporary or permanent,” Roozbeh Farahanipour, president of the West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, told The Epoch Times.
“In the county of LA, we are hardly finding employees, and nobody wants to work,” he said. “Not only restaurants, but small businesses. They are struggling with staffing and a shortage of employees.”
Farahanipour, who owns Delphi Greek Restaurant in Westwood, said that since the pandemic restrictions have lifted and employees have been able to return to work, he’s had to take on multiple roles in his restaurant to overcompensate for the lack of labor.
“Let’s say a small group of people working and the rest are taking the fruit of that stuff, that is not going to be fair,” he said.
The program will be overseen by an arm of the county, as well as by a research team from the University of Pennsylvania, which will measure its long-term effects.
“There is so much we still do not know about the power of unconditional cash over a longer period of time,” said Dr. Amy Beth Castro with the university’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research. “With a three-year pilot, it opens up the possibility for families to set larger goals than we have seen in other experiments, and it also gives policymakers a chance to learn how unconditional cash functions alongside other programs over time.”
The City of Los Angeles, for its part, put forth more than $27 million for the program in addition to another $4 million for the pilot’s program research.
The deadline to apply for the program is April 13.