Los Angeles County officials said Tuesday that a guaranteed basic income program has begun to roll out, with 1,000 residents now receiving $1,000 a month until 2025.
Fox LA reports the recipients for the program were chosen randomly out of more than 180,000 applicants.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said that given the number of county residents who applied, it’s “abundantly clear” that the time has come for the program idea.
“I’m confident that we will see what other pilots have already shown,” Kuehl said according to Fox LA. “That a guaranteed basic income, by giving people a bit of financial breathing room, allows them to stabilize their lives and that of their family.”
Kuehl added that three years from now, she feels “confident” that the county program would be viewed as a “foundation stone” for every eligible American household to receive economic opportunity and stability.
Los Angeles County supervisors voted last year to develop a pilot program called BIG:LEAP, which developers modeled after a similar program in Stockton, California.
According to the program’s website, poverty affects two out of every ten residents in the city of Los Angeles, of whom 31% are children. And with rents skyrocketing across the county and insufficient wages to match the cost of living, about one-third of working Angelenos struggle to support their families on one full-time income.
To qualify for the program, participants 18 and older negatively impacted by the pandemic can only have a house income under $56,000 for a single person or $96,000 for a family of four. If approved, the recipients would access the money via debit card.
Program officials told FOX LA that those chosen range in age from 18 to 91 years old, come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and have an administrator from Strength Based Community Change who will stay in touch with the individuals.
Payments will be part of the state’s Fiscal Year 2021/22 budget that both Governor Gavin Newsom and the Legislature approved.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly Mitchell said in a press release in March at the time of enrollment that the poverty that residents experience on any given day cannot be addressed with a “one-size-fits-all approach.”
“Now is our opportunity to invest in support that directly reaches our residents,” Mitchell said. “It’s time that we trust that our residents know how best to meet their needs when given the resources to do so.”
However, taxpayer associations view the move from county officials to give residents free money as a slippery slope that would reduce work ethic.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a nonprofit standing up for taxpayer rights, told The Epoch Times at the time of the program’s proposal that work experience gives people value, social networks, and a sense of purpose for contributing to society.
Coupal called the universal basic income program “pure politics” by county officials.
“There’s an old saying, ‘If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the vote of Paul,’” he said.
Coupal also advocated for mandated government oversight of the program, similar to other social services.
“If it’s the government’s money, they should absolutely be able to control how it’s spent. You don’t want people going out and buying cigarettes and booze with this,” Coupal said. “It would be more consistent with existing programs, for example the SNAP program, the food stamp program, you get vouchers to buy food. Same with Section Eight housing, you get vouchers to purchase housing.”