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Guaranteed basic income explained

Breaking the cycle of poverty in LA County

John W. Davis | OW Reporter | 8/11/2021, 3:15 p.m.
Breaking the cycle of poverty takes income...
Supervisor Holly Mitchell. Supervisor Holly Mitchell's Office

Breaking the cycle of poverty takes income in Los Angeles County, according to Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell who hosted a virtual community discussion on Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) Aug. 4, which focused on what GBI means for residents in the second supervisorial district, which comprises South Los Angeles and West LA.

“(We have to acknowledge that) various communities were hit differently by this current public health and economic pandemic,” Mitchell said.

Meanwhile, experts believe GBI can have a direct impact on disrupting cycles of poverty and change the trajectory of recipients’ lives. That’s why officials are seeking community input as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is in the process of starting the county’s GBI pilot program.

The three-year pilot program is expected to give $1,200 a month to 150 young adults between 18 and 24 years old. Officials are hoping the program will provide greater financial stability for participants and be used to address specific disparities in LA County such as housing, income, food insecurity, and health.

“It really allowed people to achieve their full potential,” said Sukhi Samra, the director of Mayor for a Guaranteed Income.

“This is not a new concept… this is about fundamentally acknowledging what it costs to live in Los Angeles,” Mitchell said. “I’ve spent my entire career thinking about how government can alleviate poverty.”

Meanwhile, guaranteed income initiatives are a growing trend that has been also approved at the state and municipal levels in the City of Los Angeles, Long Beach, West Hollywood, and Compton.

“We can start to see what other people have been living with not just in this pandemic but for years and decades,” said Jamarah Hayner, co-director of the Compton Pledge, which is providing 800 families as much as $1800 dollars a month for two years.

The Compton Pledge is about allowing residents to breathe and build and was launched in April.

“It has alleviated a lot of stress… especially as me being a new mother,” said Kiesha McCann, a participant in the Compton Pledge program. “It has also helped me with saving money to one day become a homeowner.”