Applications Open for LA’s Groundbreaking Basic Income Program

Los Angeles County began accepting applications for its basic income program Thursday, March 31. The Breathe program will award 1,000 randomly selected qualifying residents with $1,000 per month over a period of three years.

To qualify, applicants must be LA residents who are at least 18 years of age with a household income under $56,000 for a single person or $96,000 for a family of four. They must also have suffered hardships as a result of the pandemic. Applications will be accepted through April 13, 2022.

Qualified applicants will be randomly selected by a research team from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research, which has partnered with the county to develop and administer the program.

“It’s time that we trust that our residents know how best to meet their needs when given the resources to do so,” said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, who introduced the motion for a basic income program with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “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.”

“The course of this pandemic has revealed the large number of County residents who are living on the brink of financial crisis, with insufficient savings to weather a job loss, a medical emergency, or a major car repair. 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,” said Kuehl.

Basic income programs have been sprouting up across the United States. The first city-led basic income program came out of Stockton, California in 2019. Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) provided 125 people with $500 a month for a two-year period. The program was deemed a success, with independent researchers finding it alleviated recipients’ financial problems and improved job prospects and overall well-being.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, who spearheaded SEED, praised Los Angeles’ program last week. Breathe will not only help LA residents, said Tubbs, but will also help “achieve the ultimate goal of establishing a program nationally that eliminates poverty and builds economic resilience across the country.”

Breathe will be the largest such program to date.

Read more about the program here.