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BIG:LEAP is not currently accepting applications. Please view our Resources page for information on other programs that may be of interest to you.

Why Guaranteed Income?

Poverty touches the lives of more than 38 million people living in America today — close to twelve percent of the U.S. population. 

Poverty affects two out of every 10 residents in the City of Los Angeles — most of them people of color. Thirty-one percent are children.

One-third of working adults in Los Angeles aren’t able to support their families with full-time work alone. 

The relentless poverty experienced by too many Angelenos emerges out of a lack of financial resources, not a lack of judgment. While Angelenos are doing everything in their power to achieve financial security, the burdens of a high cost of living, unaffordable housing options, and insufficient wages too often exceed families’ ability to confront those challenges on their own — and we know that the economic difficulties caused by COVID-19 will outlast the pandemic itself. Employment alone cannot always break the cycle of poverty, and research has consistently demonstrated that direct cash aid is a powerful tool for ensuring greater stability for vulnerable Americans.

a father and child

What is BIG:LEAP?

Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot is providing approximately 3,200 individuals with $1,000 per month for 12 months. These are unconditional, regular, and direct cash payments to individual participants that supplement existing welfare programs. This means there are no restrictions on how the money can be spent and no requirements for the participants. GBI programs are founded upon the belief that the people enduring financial instability or poverty are best positioned to make informed financial decisions that efficiently address their household’s needs— whether that means paying for rent, a new tire, or an unexpected trip to urgent care. These participants are granted the freedom to meet their most pressing needs without delay.

Furthermore, the participant’s financial future becomes more secure and predictable, providing families the resources to address problems before they lead to larger and costlier burdens. Through BIG:LEAP, Angelenos are empowered to forge their own path towards financial security. While no single program can reverse decades of economic and racial inequality that marginalize low-income people of color, BIG: LEAP can point the way towards a more equitable and prosperous future.

A Research Study

We believe that guaranteed income can serve as an addition, not an alternative, to the nation’s current social safety net. It will provide an income floor for those without one, strengthening the social safety net and expanding access in the process. Currently there is an array of public assistance programs, including CALWORKS, CalFresh, WIC,  the EITC, and Medicare that form the nation’s social safety net. Unfortunately, these programs alone cannot meet everyone’s needs.

In addition to uplifting approximately 3,200 families financially, Los Angeles’ guaranteed income pilot provides an opportunity to expand our knowledge of community investment and poverty interventions. The City of Los Angeles is working with the Center of Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania to gather valuable data throughout the pilot program. The information collected will be used to reform current policies, guide future programs, and aid in the expansion of our social safety net.

Program Objectives

Provide immediate and ongoing financial relief to those impacted by poverty and the effects of COVID-19.

Conduct a rigorous research assessment of the GBI program to evaluate its efficacy so that other government entities have the necessary evidence to implement these programs at a greater scale.

Influence federal and state regulations that limit the City’s ability to offer direct cash assistance with existing grant funds.

Direct local funding to City departments and empower them to implement comprehensive, bold programs that uplift our most vulnerable residents from poverty.

This pilot will work to connect participants to outside financial resources that can better assist them in developing wealth. In order to break the cycle of poverty that keeps families trapped for generations, these resources will promote accumulating savings, setting attainable, long-term financial goals, and incrementally building intergenerational wealth.

Bring participants into the city’s vast network of resources to aid them in their path to financial security.