Los Angeles County residents struggling to make ends meet could get extra help under a pilot program that would provide $1,000 every month directly into their pockets.
County officials launched the “Breathe” program, which would earmark guaranteed funding for 1,000 low-income residents.
“We need proven and diverse solutions for the economic challenges millions of our residents are experiencing every day that ripple across communities and go deep into families, leading to multi-generational poverty,” L.A County Board of Supervisor-Second District Holly J. Mitchell said during a Thursday press conference.
“Guaranteed income is but one, yet but powerful tool that we can use to help combat poverty and create an equitable recovery.”
Mitchell and L.A. County Board of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents the Third District, initiated the program, which was approved by the Board on May 18.
To be qualified for the program, applicants must be 18 years old or older and live in a low-income or working class area of L.A. County.
Applicants also must fall below L.A. County’s average median income — for a family of four, that means they have to make below $96,000.
A single person must make below $56,000 to qualify.
“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,” Kuehl said in a press release.
“This guaranteed income program will help give residents the breathing room they need to better weather those crises,” she added.
Amy Beth Castro, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Guaranteed Income Research, applauded the program.
“There is so much we still do not know about the power of unconditional cash over a longer period of time,” Castro said.
“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.”