Los Angeles Considers Giving $1,000 Every Month for Three Years to Some Residents

Los Angeles County leaders will vote next week on a proposal to give 1,000 residents $1,000 per month in a universal basic income pilot program.

The idea of universal basic income has been popularized in the past several years, with support for such policies growing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. If Los Angeles County in California approves the plan, it would become the largest county in the country to launch a universal basic income pilot program.

County supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly Mitchell have put forward the proposal, which would provide $1,000 payments to 1,000 residents for three years, local television station KTLA 5 reported on Thursday. Kuehl and Mitchell pointed to the economic instability of the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that the county must explore new anti-poverty measures.

"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," they wrote in their motion, which will be discussed and voted on in a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday next week.

Los Angeles, California
A view of the downtown Los Angeles skyline at sunset with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background seen from Kenneth Hahn Park on January 17 in Los Angeles. County supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly Mitchell have reportedly put forward the proposal, which would provide $1,000 payments to 1,000 residents for three years. Jerritt Clark/GC Images

A source in the Los Angeles County supervisors office told Newsweek that the proposal is expected to be approved, noting that "the data so far on guaranteed basic income is very promising." They said the proposal aims to address "very sharp economic inequalities [that] the pandemic has brought that into even sharper focus."

In April, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, put forward a similar proposal that would provide $1,000 per month to 2,000 families across his city for a year, Los Angeles Times reported. Additionally, a universal basic income pilot program will start in a South Los Angeles district this summer, providing $1,000 per month to 500 families led by single parents.

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, who previously unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination, championed a federal universal basic income proposal during his presidential campaign. He proposed providing $1,000 per month for all Americans. However, he's put forward a significantly scaled back version of the plan as part of his campaign to lead New York City. Under Yang's new plan, 500,000 of New York City's lowest-income residents would get $2,000 annually.

During the pandemic, stimulus checks were a widely popular form of federal government assistance. The first batch of direct payments was sent out last spring, with most Americans receiving at least $1,200. In December, Congress approved a second round of $600 payments, then President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan doled out another $1,400 stimulus check for the majority of Americans.

A growing number of progressive lawmakers have called for regular monthly payments of $2,000 for Americans as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. An online petition supporting the temporary universal basic income has racked up well over 2 million supporters on Change.org.

This article has been updated with comment from a source in the Los Angeles County supervisors office.