LA County Launches Guaranteed Income Pilot

Applicants for the $1,000-a-month payments need to have been hurt by pandemic
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2022 12:40 PM CDT
Los Angeles County Tests $1,000-a-Month Income Plan
A drone view of Los Angeles.   (Getty/AleMoraes244)

Los Angeles County is now accepting applications for its $1,000-a-month guaranteed income program. Under the pilot, called Breathe, 1,000 residents will be picked randomly from eligible applicants, KTLA reports. The money will be delivered through a county debit card monthly for three years, with no strings attached, "allowing participants to spend the money as they see fit to meet their needs," officials said. "It's time that we trust that our residents know how best to meet their needs when given the resources to do so," Holly Mitchell, chair of the county board of supervisors, said this month.

To be eligible, applicants need to be at least 18 and live in a county neighborhood with a median household income no higher than that of the county at large and not already be in a gauranteed income program. Income limits are $56,000 for an individual and $96,000 for a family of four. And they need to have been hurt financially by the pandemic. The program is an effort to mitigate the inequities in low-income areas that the COVID-19 epidemic underscored. Applicants can sign up here.

Researchers track debit card use to see where the money is being spent, per MarketWatch. The Los Angeles County program will monitor factors including physical and mental health, income and housing stability, food security, family dynamics and COVID-19 issues. Enrollees can choose to check with researchers every six months for assessments or be excluded from the research aspect. "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 of the University of Pennsylvania center that will co-manage the program. Mitchell said similar programs elsewhere have been shown to reduce poverty and improve families' long-term well-being. (Read more basic income stories.)

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