City of LA Announces Application Process for BIG:LEAP, the Largest Basic Income Demonstration in US

Updated: Jan 4

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City of Los Angeles Announces Application Process for BIG:LEAP, the Largest Basic Income Demonstration in the Country LOS ANGELES — Council President Nury Martinez, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Councilmembers Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson announced the launch of the application process for BIG:LEAP, Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot today. This pilot will be the largest demonstration of a Guaranteed Basic Income program in the United States. “It is unacceptable that one-third of working adults in Los Angeles are unable to support their families with full-time work alone,” said Council President Nury Martinez. “The City’s BIG:LEAP program will be a lifeline to families who wouldn’t be able to afford a $500 emergency if one were to occur. The launch of this program marks a milestone in our progress towards a more equitable city. ” The City’s program will provide recurring, direct cash relief to approximately 3,000 families who are living in poverty and have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for 12 months. These monthly installments will be unconditional, regular, and direct cash payments that can supplement existing programs that participants may already be enrolled in. This means there are no restrictions on how the money can be spent and no requirements for the participants to fulfill. “When Los Angeles puts its stamp on a transformational issue, we don’t follow — we lead, and we believe that BIG:LEAP will pay large dividends for health and stability across our city and light a fire across our nation,” said Mayor Garcetti. “This program is a small but steady investment in a simple concept: When you provide resources to families that are struggling, it can give them the breathing room to realize goals that many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted: put food on the table and cover childcare with less stress, keep their children’s focus on education, and pursue new opportunities with fewer worries about the day-to-day needs of their household.” Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) programs have been 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. “Council District 9 is home to some of the most marginalized communities in the Country. It has the highest percentage of individuals living in poverty in all of LA,” said Councilmember Price. “Here is where more than 780 families will be turning a corner. BIG:LEAP provides a pathway to equity for potential recipients.” "Where programs like this have been introduced, we have seen a reduction in crime, increased school attendance, improved health outcomes, and a stronger sense of well-being,” said Councilmember Harris-Dawson. “This is how government should work, to reduce the strain on our social safety nets and trust that people who experience economic vulnerability are best equipped to make financial decisions for their families." The application to participate in BIG:LEAP will open on Friday, October 29, 2021 and last 10 days, ending Sunday, November 7, 2021. Applicants can go online to or visit their closest Familysource center for assistance. Community organizations are also invited to learn more about the application process and how they can help connect Angelenos-in-need by participating in webinars and reviewing the information on the program website. The City’s research partner, the Center for Guaranteed Income, will randomly select 3,000 Angelenos to receive cash assistance from the pool of applicants. The Community Investment for Families Department anticipates large-scale interest and is working to manage expectations within communities. Angelenos that are randomly selected to participate will be required to provide eligibility documentation to prove they meet the program requirements: an adult with at least one dependent or be pregnant, resident of the City of Los Angeles, income at or below the federal poverty level, and experienced medical or economic impact due to COVID-19. If a participant’s eligibility is confirmed, they will receive a debit card through MocaFi, which will be reloaded with $1,000 every month. The City anticipates the first disbursement will occur in January 2022. “Poverty affects two out of every 10 residents in the City of Los Angeles — most of them people of color,” said Abigail Marquez, General Manager of the Community Investment for Families Department. “$1,0000 a month can dramatically change a family’s circumstance. We know many more people will apply than can be served, but what we learn from this demonstration program can help us be better advocates to help people more effectively and efficiently to break the cycle of poverty.” Some Angelenos who do not get selected to receive cash aid will be invited to participate in the program’s research through ongoing surveys. This will help the City’s research partner gather data on the impact of the program. The results of the study will be published one year after the conclusion of the program. To learn more about Big:LEAP, go to ###