By: email@example.com (Grace Dean)
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- Los Angeles County has launched a universal basic income pilot program.
- The scheme will give $1,000 a month to 1,000 residents for three years.
- 180,000 residents applied to take part, including over 95,000 people who applied on the first day.
Los Angeles County has kicked off its universal basic income scheme, which will give $1,000 a month to 1,000 residents for three years.
The county said on Tuesday that the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income, which is studying the pilot program, had randomly selected the participants from roughly 180,000 residents who applied. More than 95,000 people had signed up on the day enrollment opened, the county said.
The participants, aged from 18 to 91, will get $1,000 a month via a debit card through the program which was launched to address poverty and income instability. Authorities said the program gives participants “total control over how they spend their money.”
“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,” Sheila Kuehl, supervisor of Los Angeles County’s third district, said in a statement.
“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.”
As well as the government, a number of philanthropic organizations are funding the program in Los Angeles County, including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.
The concept of a guaranteed level of income, often in the form of a universal basic income (UBI), dates back to at least the 16th century, when Spanish-born humanist Juan Luis Vives advocated for a system of unconditional welfare.
Since then, it’s attracted support ranging from people ranging from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Elon Musk, and it became a cornerstone of Andrew Yang’s run in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.
Stockton, California, ran a UBI scheme between January 2019 and February 2021 which gave 125 residents $500 per month. After just a year, full-time employment among the participants had increased, and depression and anxiety had decreased, according to the results of the scheme.
More economists and lawmakers have been calling for the introduction of UBI schemes as the pandemic both exacerbated and exposed huge income inequalities. Stockton’s mayor has since launched a coalition of dozens of US mayors working to push support for the schemes, and cities including Cambridge, Massachusetts, Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia have all launched pilot programs.
Earlier this year, the City of Los Angeles also launched a guaranteed income pilot program which is one of the biggest in the US so far.
The program is giving $1,000 a month for a year to about 3,200 families that are in poverty, have at least one dependent minor or be pregnant, and have experienced either financial or medical hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic.