Los Angeles could become the biggest city in America to offer a guaranteed income program to residents. The city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, is expected to propose a program on Tuesday (April 20).
Under Garcetti’s proposal, 2,000 low-income households would receive a monthly payment of $1,000. Multiple outlets reported Garcetti is asking the City Council for $24 million to fund the program, to add to other funding sources to bring the total to $35 million.
As the nation’s second-largest city, Garcetti is hoping to target families who have at least one child and who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Those eligible for the one-year program would be those living in the city’s 15 districts. Candidates will be selected based on the proportion of residents living below the federal poverty threshold in each district.
“How many decades are we going to keep fighting a war on poverty with the same old results,” Garcetti said, according to a report by Fortune. “This is one of the cheapest insertions of resources to permanently change people’s lives.” The Basic Income Guaranteed: LA Economic Assistance Pilot, or Big: Leap, will ask recipients to participate in studies to see how the program makes an impact.
Other cities across the US have piloted similar programs including Stockton, California, San Francisco, California, Saint Paul, Minnesota, and more. In Stockton, their guaranteed income program was launched two years ago and gave 125 families $500 a month. Research studies found that those receiving the monthly payments were less anxious and depressed and obtained full-time employment more than twice the rate of those not in the program.
“Everybody said: ‘You give people money, they’re going to buy even bigger TVs,’” Garcetti said. “Stockton showed that’s just not true. Low-income Americans know what to do with additional resources to build health and wealth, but too many of them are caught in the cycle of poverty,” he added.
Several other cities are pushing for guaranteed income, especially as the economic fallout impacts the US and global economies.
Universal basic income has been championed throughout history by figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang also made it a key point in his run for president.
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