Starting Friday, Angelenos citywide can apply for the city’s guaranteed basic income pilot program, which will give $1,000 a month to 3,000 households for a year.
The nearly $40 million BIG:LEAP (Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot) program is the largest of its kind in the United States.
“Its name perfectly captures what we’re doing here in L.A. because we’re taking a big leap forward in our generational fight to end poverty, to break the back of our addiction to poverty here in America,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday.
Los Angeles’ BIG:LEAP program’s application process opened Friday, and people will have until Nov. 7 to apply. People can apply at bigleap.lacity.org. More information is available from Councilman Curren Price’s District Office at 323-846-2651.
Only households with at least one child dependent will be considered, and recipients must live in the city of Los Angeles, be over the age of 18, and have an income at or below the federal poverty line. They also must have experienced economic or medical hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than a quarter of the recipients will come from Price’s District 9.
“Why Council District 9? Well, 9 is home to some of the most marginalized neighborhoods in our city. Most marginalized, highest rates of poverty, highest rates of dropouts,” Price said.
Price said Tuesday that his district office, at 4301 S. Central Ave., will serve as a command center during the application window to assist constituents. Additional sites — including the Vermont Square Branch Library, Ascot Branch Library, Junipero Serra Branch Library, the All Peoples Community Center and Trade-Tech College — will provide computers, Wi-Fi and language support to help District 9 residents apply.
Garcetti said officials looked at data from a smaller GPI program in Stockton while developing the pilot, and studies showed that the 125 Stockton residents who received $500 per month were more than twice as likely to secure full-time jobs as people in a control group.
“They landed full-time employment because they could afford to take that job interview that before they couldn’t. Maybe instead of two jobs, they could have one, and they were able to get full-time employment more than twice the rate of non-recipients,” Garcetti said, citing findings by Stacia West of the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work and Amy Castro Baker of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Stockton program was conducted between February 2019 and February 2020 under former Mayor Michael Tubbs. Garcetti added that the study found participants “reported feeling less exhausted and anxious than those in the control group.
“They spent more time with their kids, which meant those kids got help with things like homework and are going to have better graduation rates,” he added.
Critics of the programs often cite opposition to handing out free money, especially without restrictions on how it can be spent. Some say it will cause people to work less, though the Stockton program’s findings found that recipients ended up working more. The proportion of recipients who had full-time jobs rose from 28% to 40%, while the control group experienced a 5% increase in full-time employment during the same period.
On Tuesday, the City Council approved $27.4 million for the program citywide, which includes about $3.4 million for Price’s district. Price’s office will provide another $6 million from its Guaranteed Basic Income Funds. The offices of Council Districts 6, 8 and 10 also provided funding from their offices’ GBI funds, totaling more than $5 million.
“Right now poverty affects two out of every 10 residents in our city and the majority of those individuals are people of color. This is unacceptable,” said Council President Nury Martinez, who represents District 6. “Angelenos are working 40+ hours per week and still can’t make ends meet, but here in Los Angeles, we pride ourselves on leading the way.”
Martinez and Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents District 8, praised Price for initiating the Guaranteed Basic Income program in Los Angeles.
“When Councilman Price put his proposal forward, it was almost like the county and other cities started tripping over themselves to do it as well, and so now we’ll have a robust guaranteed basic income program here in Los Angeles, but in other places as well,” Harris-Dawson said.
The council also approved nearly $4 million for research and design services related to the pilot program.
The city partnered with academics to study the program’s impact on recipients’ mental health, food security, housing security, employment, homelessness, parenting, family dynamics and more. Garcetti said he hopes the program, as the largest sample in the U.S., will provide data to the state and federal governments in hopes of larger such programs being implemented.