LOS ANGELES – Participants of Los Angeles’ year-long guaranteed basic income pilot project received their final monthly payments Saturday, bringing the payment portion of a program that served more than 3,200 individuals and distributed more than $38.4 million to an end, city officials announced Wednesday.
Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price presented the motion to create a guaranteed basic income pilot in the city back in 2021. Administered by the city’s Community Investment for Families Department, the program known as Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot — or BIG: LEAP — provided participants with $1,000 per month in an effort to help them in ways such as catching up on rent and bills, paying for medical expenses or basic necessities, or paying for school tuition.
“I see firsthand how poverty can impact communities and deprive generations of equity,” Price said in a statement. “BIG:LEAP, and programs like it, are a critical investment into communities that allow us to uplift families, so we can break the multi-generational cycle of poverty in Los Angeles and beyond.”
Related: I applied for LA’s basic income program – and the process was startling
At the direction of the City Council and then-Mayor Eric Garcetti, the city began the pilot program in late 2021. The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research, a partner of the city’s program, randomly selected the 3,200 participants from more than 50,000 applications.
Participants received unrestricted monthly payments via a physical debit card. Additionally, 3,800 applicants were invited to take part in recurring research surveys, without receiving the monthly disbursement. Both the treatment and control groups are administered surveys every six months to measure various aspects of their wellbeing, including mental health, food and housing security, employment, homelessness, parenting and family dynamics.
The data will be published in final report scheduled to be released in 2024.
“Our guaranteed income pilot presented the opportunity to support a simple idea that families experiencing poverty should be trusted to spend money as they see fit,” Abigail Marquez, general manager for the city’s Community Investment for Families Department, said in a statement. “The program was incredibly impactful for Angelenos, but we know more resources are needed to sufficiently support families long term. We’re committed to finding ways to advance programs and policies that disrupt the cycle of generational poverty.”
In Los Angeles County, 14.2% of residents live below the federal poverty line, which in California is defined as having an annual income of $13,590 for one-person household, $18,310 for two people and $27,750 for a family of four. Of the 1.4 million Angelenos living below the federal poverty line, 419,000 are children under the age of 18.
The city’s Community Investment for Families Department is focused on seeking new investment to run a follow-up guaranteed income program to continue to help Angeleno families in need, according to a statement from Price’s office.