The city of Los Angeles could become the largest city in the nation to test a universal basic income program.
The pilot program, proposed as part of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s 2021–22 fiscal year budget proposal, would provide $1,000 monthly to 2,000 low-income families for one year.
The guaranteed basic income program would cost taxpayers $24 million and was set to be reviewed as part of the budget during a May 20 council meeting. After the budget and finance committee presents the financial blueprint to the city council, it will have until June 1 to adopt a budget.
Garcetti said the program is an effort to end poverty in Los Angeles.
“We’re betting that one small but steady investment for Angeleno households will pay large dividends for health and stability across our city and light a fire across our nation,” Garcetti wrote in a tweet about the program on April 19. He said it’s based on Dr. Martin Luther King’s call for income programs. “We’re showing what it takes to fulfill Dr. King’s call for a basic income once and for all.”
While Los Angeles’ proposal may be the largest of its kind, other cities have started similar programs. In Oakland, Calif., officials announced the city’s new Oakland resilient families program that is set to offer $500 per month for 18 months to low-income families of color, though it is privately funded.
Within the city of Los Angeles, certain councilmembers have looked into creating their own programs to provide income.
In District 9, Councilman Curren Price launched a program to provide $1,000 per month to 500 single-parent households for one year. Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Nury Martinez, and Mark Ridley-Thomas are considering ideas for their own programs.
In Los Angeles County as a whole, the board of supervisors voted to approve a proposal for a guaranteed income program on May 18, with one of the proposals calling to pay $1,000 per month to 1,000 residents for a minimum of three years. The program echoes a similar sentiment of a pursuit to end poverty and inequities, and each program allows residents to spend the money however they wish.