Los Angeles could offer thousands of poor residents $1,000 a month, 'no questions asked'

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Lauren Frias,Charles Davis
·2 min read
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california homelessness los angeles
Echo Park Lake Thursday, March 25, 2021 in los Angeles, CA. Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • Poor residents in Los Angeles could receive $1,000 direct monthly payments as part of the city's budget.

  • LA Mayor Eric Garcetti outlined the $24 million proposal during his annual "State of the City" address.

  • The payments will "begin to tear away at poverty in our city," Garcetti said.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Over one in five residents of Los Angeles live in poverty, making it one of the poorest big cities in the nation - a fact most visible in the tens of thousands of people who sleep on its streets every evening. But some could soon receive a cash infusion from their government.

"$1,000 a month to 2,000 households for an entire year," Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday, "no questions asked."

In his annual "state of the city" address, Garcetti outlined a $24 million proposal to lift up the city's poor residents without the bureaucracy of traditional welfare programs, which tie assistance to specific goods, such as food or housing. The aid, according to LAist, will be directed to families that live at or near the federal poverty line.

The "direct help," Garcetti said, will "begin to tear away at poverty in our city and show this nation a way to fulfill Dr. King's call for a basic income once and for all."

In the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King advocated for a guaranteed income equivalent equal to the median wage, which would be over $30,000 today. Garcetti's proposal will only make a dent in a region where hundreds of thousands of people live in poverty.

But, the Los Angeles Times reported, any city-wide effort will be supplemented by district-level initiatives, including one in South Los Angeles to provide $1,000 annual cash assistance to single parents.

Last year, Garcetti also announced that thousands of out-of-work food service employees would receive a one-time payment of $800, using private funds raised by his nonprofit organization.

Humanity Forward, the nonprofit of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang who was a major proponent of universal basic income and ran his campaign on the platform, partnered with the $1K Project last August to bring $1,000 direct monthly payments to struggling American families amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"If Congress had its s--- together, we'd all be getting direct, recurring payments throughout this pandemic, and something like what we're doing with $1K Project would be less vital," Yang, who is now running for mayor of New York, told Insider in August. "In the absence of congressional action, then what we're doing seems even more immediate and vital."

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