Some residents in Los Angeles are getting a substantial windfall of $1,000 every month as the city rolls out its new program, BIG:LEAP, or Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot.
Under this initiative, 3,000 households could benefit from receiving a basic income from the government, provided that they send in their application before the November 7 deadline. Mayor Eric Garcetti said that BIG:LEAP is meant to help families struggling to make ends meet.
"Its name perfectly captures what we're doing here in L.A. because we're taking a big leap forward in our generational fight to end poverty," the mayor said.
Qualifications for Getting the Basic Income
Under the BIG:LEAP program, priority will be given to income-earners above 18 years old, living in Los Angeles, and having at least one dependent child. They must also have a yearly income below the federal poverty line. According to NBC Los Angeles, a family of four below the poverty line has an estimated annual income of $26,000.
However, not everyone who applies and qualifies for the basic income program could be given the payment because the beneficiaries will be chosen at random. The budget for this pilot rollout is good for $40 million or 3,000 families only. This rollout is the second biggest basic income benefit after Chicago, that is distributing $500 a month to 5,000 families.
City Councilman Curren Price of District 9 is behind the basic income initiative to help struggling households, especially during the pandemic. Price said that the public health crisis has only worsened the racial wealth gap in Los Angeles.
In his district alone, those living in poverty have increased by 12 percent; thus, this pilot will also prioritize them. Price said that his district has the most marginalized communities with the highest rates of school dropouts.
Applications for BIG:LEAP are accepted through the basic income online portal or in-person hubs like the Trade-Tech College, Vermont Square Branch Library, All Peoples Community Center, Ascot Branch Library, and the Junipero Serra Branch Library. Price said they launched the pop-up application hubs to do away with chaos and frustration that happened with other rollouts, such as the COVID-19 vaccines.
Los Angeles residents who may have more questions about the initiative can contact Price's office at (323) 846-2651.
Guaranteed Basic Income Won't Be Repaid
There is no regulation on how families should spend their monthly guaranteed basic income, and there is no need to repay this incentive during tax season. According to the official site, applicants will not be asked how they plan to spend the money, whether for paying utility bills or rent, buying food, buying new tires for their car, or their savings.
If the pilot program succeeds, a bigger and more extensive basic income rollout may follow in the next few years. The mayor said this would be a small and steady investment in the residents, eventually providing stability for many households.
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