L.A. Makes Big Leap With First Guaranteed Basic Income Program

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Kisha Smith

Applications are now being accepted for the city’s first guaranteed basic income program, which will provide more than 3,200 households in Los Angeles with an unconditional $1,000 per month for one year. Dubbed “Big: Leap”, the $38 million program is being described as the largest poverty-disrupter pilot program in the country offering no-strings attached direct-cash payments.

“When Los Angeles puts its stamp on a transformational issue, we don’t follow — we lead, and we believe that BIG:LEAP will pay large dividends for health and stability across our city and light a fire across our nation,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This program is a small but steady investment in a simple concept: When you provide resources to families that are struggling, it can give them the breathing room to realize goals that many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted: put food on the table and cover childcare with less stress, keep their children’s focus on education and pursue new opportunities with fewer worries about the day-to-day needs of their household.”

To qualify, applicants must reside in the City of Los Angeles; be 18 years of age or older; have at least one dependent child or be pregnant; have income at or below the federal poverty level; and have experienced economic and/or medical hardship related to COVID-19.

“Where programs like this have been introduced, we have seen a reduction in crime, increased school attendance, improved health outcomes, and a stronger sense of well-being,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “This is how government should work, to reduce the strain on our social safety nets and trust that people who experience economic vulnerability are best equipped to make financial decisions for their families.”

“We continue to make history as we push forward a progressive agenda that puts working families first,” said Councilmember Curren Price, who proposed the program. “District 9 will be the epicenter of BIG:LEAP, because the times we are living in require real investment in the lives of real people.”

The majority of the participants will be residents of the Ninth district encompassing a huge portion of South Los Angeles and part of downtown L.A., representing the largest percentage of Angelenos living in poverty who are mostly people of color.

“Here is where more than 780 families will be turning the corner. We’re going to be mobilizing the community in a big way,” said Price of his efforts to assist residents in applying for the program. 

“Sadly, this pandemic has only exacerbated the racial wealth gap and it’s laid bare a mountain of inequities that impact us all.”

The 10-day application period started October 29 and runs through November 7, 2021. The recipients of cash assistance from BIG:LEAP will be randomly selected by the City’s research partner, the Center for Guaranteed Income and will be required to provide eligibility documentation to prove they meet program requirements. Upon confirmation, they will receive a prepaid debit card which will be reloaded with $1,000 every month. The City anticipates the first disbursement of funds in late January 2022

Applicants can apply online at https://BIGLEAP.lacity.org/ or visit a BIG:LEAP Community Partner (list of partners available by calling 311) or locate a FamilySource Center (16 locations) for assistance. 


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