The City of Los Angeles has developed one of the biggest guaranteed income programs in the nation, providing payments of $1,000 a month for a full year for 3,200 people. The government program—named Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot or the BIG LEAP by city officials—gives unconditional cash assistance to participants in this pilot program.
The program’s mission is to give ongoing and immediate financial support to Los Angeles’ residents who have been affected by the impacts of poverty and the pandemic. The money is meant to be a supplement to welfare programs.
The BIG LEAP program does not impose restrictions on how recipients can spend the money. Individuals who were selected to receive the money can spend it however they see fit. This includes (but is not limited to) food for their families, rent payments, transportation, utilities, and medical bills.
Los Angeles County has a similar guaranteed income program, which county officials have named “Breathe,” a reference to the program’s goal to help alleviate the financial stress many Los Angeles’ residents currently experience. The program gives $1,000 per month of guaranteed income for 36 months to eligible recipients.
Among the requirements to participate, recipients must show an annual household income under $96,000 for a family of four or $56,000 for an individual. While the Breathe program could only accept 1,000 recipients, over 180,000 county residents applied.
How effective are universal basic income (UBI) programs?
One of the biggest concerns for critics of UBI programs is if they are effective in reducing poverty and providing recipients with a stepping-stone to financial stability. Some critics believe these programs only provide short-term relief and object to this use of taxpayer money.
The Breathe program in Los Angeles County includes a research component to analyze the impact the program has in promoting the participants’ economic stability. LA County is partnering with the University of Pennsylvania to study and measure the pilot program’s outcomes.
The university will conduct a randomized control study, asking program participants and control group participants for information on a periodic basis regarding their overall health and financial well-being. The university will provide the county with the results of this study, which the county will review to determine the viability of future UBI programs.
Other income and cash programs that might interest you
Los Angeles is just one of many areas in the nation that is launching pilot projects to determine the effectiveness of guaranteed income in reducing the impacts of poverty.
I’ve listed here some other cash programs I’ve recently written about:
- A group of California workers are receiving a government bonus of $1,500.
- Some residents in this Illinois city will receive an additional $6,000 over one year.
- Some struggling high school students in California qualify for payments of $1,000 a month in guaranteed income.
Do you think programs that give people unconditional money are a good idea?
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