LA County Board of Supervisors set for vote to expand program to foster youth
By Sam Catanzaro
Los Angeles’ year-long guaranteed basic income pilot project, known as Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot (BIG: LEAP), has come to an end. The program – created in 2021 and administered by the city’s Community Investment for Families Department – distributed more than $38.4 million to over 3,200 individuals who received $1,000 per month to help them with various expenses such as rent, medical bills and basic necessities.
For the program, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research randomly selected 3,200 participants from over 50,000 applications. Additionally, 3,800 applicants were invited to participate in research surveys without receiving monthly disbursements. Both the treatment and control groups were surveyed every six months to measure various aspects of their well-being, including mental health, food and housing security, employment, homelessness, parenting, and family dynamics. The data collected will be published in a final report in 2024.
According to Abigail Marquez, general manager for the city’s Community Investment for Families Department, the guaranteed income pilot was impactful for Angelenos, but more resources are needed to support families long term.
“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,” Marquez 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.”
Currently, 14.2 percent of Los Angeles County residents live below the federal poverty line. Of the 1.4 million Angelenos living below the federal poverty line, 419,000 are children under the age of 18.
The Community Investment for Families Department is seeking new investment to run a follow-up guaranteed income program to continue to help families in need. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a motion Tuesday to expand the region’s guaranteed income program to include an additional 200 former foster youth. If approved, participants would receive $1,000 a month for two years, and researchers would study the long-term impacts of guaranteed basic income on their well-being.