A briefing hosted by Ethnic Media Services shared valuable updates on plans to assist the most vulnerable financially.
“Stark and widespread economic inequities have been laid bare during the COVID-19 pandemic—highlighting the longstanding struggles of families in the nation’s most populous county, where an estimated 25% of children live in poverty. “Breathe”: LA County’s Guaranteed Income Program–beginning on March 31– is aimed at addressing these inequities for 1,000 residents in targeted low-income communities—giving them financial space to “breathe”.
The program will award 1,000 randomly selected qualifying residents $1,000 a month for three years. Other guaranteed income programs have proven to disrupt long-standing cycles of poverty and economic inequity by enabling participants to self-determine the budgetary strategies that will most benefit themselves and their families such as paying bills, enrolling in education/training programs, and providing for the well-being of their families”.
Supervisor Holly Mitchell, Chair, LA County Board of Supervisors, Second District kicked off the historic conversation about “Breathe”, to alleviate the struggling in the community. She explained that the program allows residents to “breathe” by assisting with the little but significant things that make life better. The dual pandemic of health and economics has exposed the challenges of the community, students who are unhoused, etc. The “Build Back” equitably as in the President’s Build Back Better to combat poverty and create an equitable society. The commitment to 1k to struggling Angelenos. This pilot program has grown into a partnership to alleviate the community by disrupting poverty. This opportunity to disrupt sexist and racist trends that people who struggle with poverty face. The program begins March 31st at breathe.lacounty.gov.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, LA County Board of Supervisors, Third District embraced this initiative to recognize that this is an opportunity to give people a chance to improve their lives. The program will last three years and will assist with basic challenges like fixing a car, losing a job, etc. Poverty, race, and ethnicity go together. The county will provide a cushion. When families do well, the whole community benefits, and when they struggle everyone suffers. “Overcoming poverty is not an act of charity but a right to dignity”, Nelson Mandela.
Dr. Robert Ross praised the women’s initiative on the pilot program. He is involved because the social factors that play on life expectancy occur outside of the health system and include poverty, transportation, clean water, housing, etc, and affect the health and life expectancy. Economic vitality is as important and so his organization is interested in the pilot outcomes. Someone’s zip code can pretty much tell you their life expectancy.
Carrie Miller, Executive Director, LA County Poverty Alleviation Initiative discussed how the pilot will be executed or will work. One thousand residents will get 1k a month for 3years. There are eligibility criteria that would be considered. 31st March -April 13th on the website. It is a random selection process and those who cannot apply online can drop off at drop-off boxes. This is part of a research study and so surveys and insightful questions will be asked o collect data. Some questions will be sensitive and difficult to answer. The answers have no effect on how the candidate is selected. More information can be found at breathelacounty.gov or respira.lacounty.gov.
Application completion takes about an hour to fill. It is translated into 20languages outside of English and 30indigenous languages, and translators are available. There are drop-in centers all over LA if they have any questions for support. Immigration status is not an eligibility requirement.
Dr. Stacia West, Director, Center for Guaranteed Income Research, University of Pennsylvania shared that the goals are to build policies and programs like this to improve people’s lives. Guaranteed income has been proven to help families and communities. For 3years they will evaluate the program through random selection to participate in the research activities. Survey questions, interviews, etc after which the program will evaluate and remove people who do not qualify. It is all sorted in ways that do not lead to individuals. All research material is confidential and participants do not have to worry about being exposed. Money is distributed through debit cards and they can use the money however they choose. Money is not taxable income.