Los Angeles introduces country’s largest guaranteed income plan with ‘no strings attached’

Los Angeles officials are launching the country’s largest guaranteed income program with “no strings attached” aimed at meeting basic needs for more than 3,000 families living in the city’s most poverty-stricken region.

Enacted by the city council on Tuesday under the auspices of providing COVID-19 relief, the chosen families will receive $1,000 monthly payments under a program called BIG: LEAP, or Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot, the Daily Mail reported.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, in announcing the new initiative, called it “the largest guaranteed basic income program anywhere in the United States of America.”

Families in the Council District who are living below the poverty line can file for assistance under the program beginning Friday, with applications being accepted through Nov. 7. Chosen families will receive the monthly payments throughout next year. Those eligible must be at least 18 years old either with a dependant child or currently pregnant, live in a low-income household, and have had medical or economic difficulties at some point during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These will be unconditional, regular, and direct cash payments to individual participants that supplement existing welfare programs. This means there are no restrictions on how the money can be spent and no requirements for the participants,” says the program’s website. “Whether that means paying for rent, a new tire, or an unexpected trip to urgent care. These participants are granted the freedom to meet their most pressing needs without delay.”

Curren Price, the city councilman representing the Council District, said he would like to see similar programs enacted throughout California and on the federal level.

“The idea of a pilot program is one my office has been following for some time, and it gained momentum as we witnessed our country examine the racial disparities and social injustices during the COVID pandemic,” he said Tuesday before the council approved the program. “It’s my hope that following the conclusion of this pilot program, that it’ll be replicated at the state and federal level.”

Fox Business reported that Price’s office will serve as a sort of “command center” for receiving applications to the program. The network added that Tuesday’s council approval expands the program to $40 million beyond an initial start-up cost of around $6 million.

Two of 10 residents in L.A. routinely experience some level of poverty, according to data, while one-third of working adults are unable to support their families with a single full-time job. As such, government programs providing guaranteed incomes have become increasingly popular among socialist-minded progressives in left-leaning cities.

But the economic ill-effects of the pandemic have been felt by Americans throughout the country. Critics say those were often exacerbated by lockdowns and workplace restrictions that endured for more than a year in cities like L.A.

Nevertheless, other programs to guarantee incomes have sprung up in California, including Oakland, where a controversial initiative providing $500 only to residents of color began earlier this year. Also, elected officials in New York City announced a pilot program over the summer to pay out $1,250 a month to as many as 40 homeless people aged 18-24 for two years, also without strings attached.

The NYC program, dubbed the “Trust Youth Initiative,” aims to determine if giving money to young people who are homeless will improve their ability to improve housing and employment outcomes.

Also in California, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has announced a program to provide income to struggling artists allegedly affected by the pandemic.

Missy Halsey


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