Los Angeles County Announces Major Milestone in Guaranteed Income Program

1,000 residents have been selected and are now receiving stipends as part of one of the nation’s most ambitious programs.

Los Angeles County’s landmark Breathe: LA County’s Guaranteed Income Program is underway, with 1,000 participants selected and now receiving $1,000 a month stipend, which will continue for the next three years. The participants range in age from 18 to 91 and live in communities throughout the County, speaking languages including Armenian, Cantonese, Farsi, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish and English.

“I look forward to the lessons learned on how public investments like this — that trust our constituents — are able to keep more residents housed or better positioned to invest in their future. It is my hope that LA County’s landmark guaranteed income program and commitment to poverty alleviation will help transform the delivery of government services in addressing the pressing needs of our communities,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell.

More than 180,000 LA County residents applied for the program and the 1,000 people chosen were randomly selected by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income, which is researching guaranteed income programs across the country and studying the Breathe program’s impact on LA County’s participants. The program administrator, Strength Based Community Change (SBCC), onboarded all 1,000 recipients of the Breathe program.

“Given the huge number of LA County residents who applied, it’s abundantly clear that a guaranteed basic income is an idea whose time has come. I’m confident that we will see what other pilots have already shown: 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. Three years from now, I feel confident that this LA County program will be seen as a foundation stone that led to expanded programs providing economic opportunity and stability to every eligible American household,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

All 1,000 participants will receive $1,000 a month via debit card for three years as part of Breathe: LA County’s Guaranteed Income Program. The program was launched to address poverty and income instability and is one of the largest and longest running programs of its kind.

“Los Angeles County serves as a critical safety net for our community members and with Breathe, we are directly investing in the success of 1,000 of our fellow residents,” said LA County Chief Executive Officer Fesia Davenport. “LA County’s groundbreaking guaranteed income program will lead to concrete research about how we can best serve our communities and address some of the most pressing challenges facing our residents—including generational poverty, financial and housing instability, and inequality.”

Throughout the onboarding process, SBCC connected with the 1,000 residents and heard first-hand about the expected life-changing impacts to participants and their families.

SBCC will keep in touch with the selected participants and assist them throughout the duration of the program to help them reach their personal and financial goals to improve the quality of life for their families and themselves.

“SBCC understood the impact that a program like this could have in our community and did not take this lightly. SBCC’s connections and partnerships with other grassroots organizations allowed us to bridge the gap between residents and the opportunity to apply for the Breathe program because of our strong ties to our communities. We are grateful that these partnerships made the enrollment and onboarding process more welcoming and accessible to many different communities and residents across Los Angeles County,” said SBCC Executive Director Colleen Mooney.

Background

On March 31, 2022, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors announced the official launch of  Breathe: LA County’s Guaranteed Income Program as part of the County’s Poverty Alleviation Initiative. In addition to government funding, significant additional funding is being provided by philanthropic organizations, including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, First 5 LA, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Weingart Foundation.

More than 95,000 Los Angeles County residents signed up for Breathe on the very first day, and by April 13–when enrollment closed–-more than 180,000 applications had been submitted. All duplicate and ineligible applications were filtered out by a research team from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income, which then randomly selected 1,000 LA County residents to participate.

Breathe: LA County’s Guaranteed Income Program is different from other aid programs because recipients have total control over how they spend their money. This allows residents to have the financial flexibility to allocate their finances as needed without bureaucratic bottlenecks.

LA County and the Board of Supervisors are committed to addressing systemic issues of income inequality by providing tools to help move County residents out of poverty. The ongoing study and data gathered from recipients will be pivotal in fighting poverty, now and over the long term.

Breathe gives struggling residents a chance to ‘breathe’ easier when it comes to their finances. Though Breathe is set to be the nation’s longest-running guaranteed income program, LA County knows that there is still much more to be done. Other resources available through LA County include:

  • Stay Housed L.A, which offers information on tenants’ rights, free legal assistance, short-term rental assistance, and referrals to supportive services
  • [email protected] Elevate program, which offers youth ages 17 – 24 paid internships while gaining work experience, training, and mentoring
  • Careers for a Cause, which provides an 8-week program offering training, stipends, individual support, and job placement services for individuals with lived homelessness or justice system experience

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