LA County Eyeing Guaranteed Income Pilot Program for 150 Youths Age 18-24

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on a three-year pilot program to provide $1,204 per month to 150 county residents aged 18-24.

The money would go to youth who are currently receiving general relief benefits and participating in the Departments of Public Social Services' TAYportunity program.

The vote comes more than two months after the Supervisors voted to approve proposals for a pilot guaranteed income program and directed staff to report back on implementation.

``We have the blueprint to launch a guaranteed basic income program among a sample population that has not only been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but has historically faced economic and social inequities,'' Board Chair Hilda Solis said Saturday. ``For transition-aged youth, this pilot program will not only provide financial assistance, but a support network that when combined with financial stability helps ensure the successful transition of youth into the community. I look forward to seeing this pilot program developed and implemented to serve as a model for how the county can continue to serve the immediate needs of our most vulnerable residents.''

Tuesday's motion, authored by Solis and Supervisor Janice Hahn, is the result of a report back issued by the DPSS articulating a roadmap and outlining the benefits of implementing guaranteed income demonstration projects. It would direct the DPSS director to submit a plan to the board within 45 days for the creation of the three-year pilot project, which would provide $1,000 per month in income and $204 in CalFresh benefits.

The motion would further instruct the Chief Executive Office, in consultation with county counsel, to execute agreements with a research institution, and/or other agencies that provide benefits counseling to assist in the creation and/or study the potential efficacy of the pilot program.

County staff would also ensure that receiving the income would not affect participants' ability to receive their current general relief benefits.  In their discussions on the issue in May, the Supervisors declared that poverty and economic opportunity are public health issues and called for a new approach to address a growing wealth gap.

``As we endeavor to create a more resilient economy ... we must explore guaranteed income and other measures of poverty alleviation as permanent county policy, not just as an emergency measure,'' the motion read in part. ``The coronavirus crisis has heightened and made more vivid what was already clear to many: The inequities in our economy have been a matter of life and death for many of our most vulnerable county residents.  ``... We must fundamentally shift the idea that people who face financial insecurity have somehow failed, and instead recognize that it is the inequity and lack of access built into our economy and government assistance programs that have failed us.''

Supervisor Kathryn Barger was the dissenting vote in May's original motions calling for the pilot program, expressing concerns about lack of research into the plans and the potential for fraud.

``I am deeply concerned about the motions approved by the Board of Supervisors today to guarantee a basic income for an unspecified group of individuals over a period of at least three years,'' Barger said.

``Implementation of `Guaranteed Basic Income' has yet to be fully researched and vetted in a jurisdiction comparable to ours. As the largest county in the nation, we should be more diligent, thoughtful and strategic before we implement a program of this nature.''

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