Applications open for L.A. County guaranteed income program with $1,000 monthly payments

Applications for Los Angeles County’s guaranteed income pilot program opened Thursday, allowing residents to apply for a chance to get $1,000 a month for three years.

Only 1,000 people will be randomly selected to get the guaranteed income as part of the program, dubbed “Breathe”.

Direct monthly payments will then be distributed through debit cards sent to the chosen residents and “will come without strings or conditions, allowing participants to spend the money as they see fit to meet their needs,” county authorities said.

Those interested can head to this website to apply. The deadline for applications is April 13, and selection will not depend on when people enter.

To be eligible for the program, residents must meet all of these requirements:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Live in a Los Angeles County neighborhood that falls at or below 100% of the County’s Area Median Household Income. (You can enter your address in this eligibility map to find out if you’re eligible)
  • Have a household income that falls at or below 100% of the County’s AMI for a single person household, or at or below 120% of the County’s AMI for households with two or more people (an income eligibility table can be found here)
  • Have been negatively financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Not be currently enrolled in any another guaranteed income project

Only one person per household will be eligible to participate in the program.

LA County officials said the project is meant to address inequities that have been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic in low-income communities.

“Other guaranteed income programs have proven to disrupt longstanding cycles of poverty and economic inequity by enabling participants to self-determine the budgetary strategies that will most benefit themselves and their families,” officials said in a news release.

County officials said different programs have found that recipients use the money to pay bills, go to school and care for their families.

“It’s time that we trust that our residents know how best to meet their needs when given the resources to do so,” LA County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell said earlier this month. “Across the country, guaranteed income has already proven to reduce poverty, improve the long-term well-being of families, and give residents living on the edge of a fiscal cliff the support to breathe a bit easier.”

LA County officials said the three-year financial commitment is believed to be the longest for a program of its size and scope, allowing University of Pennsylvania researchers to study the longer-term impacts of this additional income on recipients’ economic well-being.

“There is so much we still do not know about the power of unconditional cash over a longer period of time. With a three-year pilot, it opens up the possibility for families to set larger goals than we have seen in other experiments and it also gives policymakers a chance to learn how unconditional cash functions alongside other programs over time,” said Amy Beth Castro from the University of Pennsylvania.

The application will include a survey that researchers will use to collect data about participants and those selected to be part of a control group, authorities said, adding that data will remain confidential and will not be used in selecting participants.

“This guaranteed income program will help give residents the breathing room they need to better weather those crises. There is ample evidence from guaranteed income projects around the country that financial support, coupled with the freedom to make their own decisions about how best to spend their money, offers families the flexibility they need to establish stability and invest in a more prosperous future for themselves ,” County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said earlier this month.

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