If approved, a $24 million guaranteed income program in Los Angeles would be “the largest experiment of its kind in the United States” to date, writes Libby Denkmann in LAist. “Under the proposal, dubbed ‘BIG: LEAP’ (Basic Income Guaranteed: L.A. Economic Assistance Pilot), 2,000 Angeleno families at or below the federal poverty line would receive $1,000 a month for one year, no strings attached.”
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti told LAist “For families who can’t think past the next bill, the next shift or the next health problem that they have, we can give them the space to not only dream of a better life, but to actualize it.” The plan will likely include additional selection criteria such as “supporting a child under the age of 18 and a demonstrated medical or financial hardship connected to COVID-19.”
“If successful, the Los Angeles pilot would serve as a major proof-of-concept for direct cash assistance that is divorced from the work requirements attached to many safety net programs for poor Americans, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.”
The concept of guaranteed income is nothing new. According to Michael Tubbs, former mayor of Stockton and one of the first city officials to push for a guaranteed income program in their city, “Dr. King called for guaranteed income in 1967. But the pandemic really illustrated the ways the economy isn’t working for many people,” paving the way for more cities across the country to consider some type of cash assistance. “It’s a really important time to revisit the assumptions that have been underlying our existing welfare programs,” says Nika Soon-Shiong, program director for the city of Compton’s guaranteed income program, which launched this January.