Long Beach Guaranteed Income Program on track to start payments in early summer • Long Beach Post News

Payments could begin as early as this summer, city officials say.

The Long Beach Guaranteed Income Pilot Program will provide the monthly allowance for one year to up to 500 single-parent households in the 90813 zip code, which includes parts of Central and West Long Beach. The area has the highest concentration of poverty in the city and has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the stipend, participating families will also receive free childcare, transportation assistance, workforce training and digital inclusion support such as mobile phones and internet connection.

Last spring, the Cal State Long Beach Office of Economic Research helped the city develop a framework for the program and determined that the 90813 ZIP code was the area in greatest need. In the 90813 ZIP code, 24% of families live below the federal poverty line, said Seiji Steimetz, director of CSULB’s Bureau of Economic Research. Of those families, more than half — about 1,500 — are headed by a single parent, Steimetz said.

Income programs have become increasingly popular in recent years. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia is part of a growing coalition of 62 mayors across the country who announced in July 2020 that they would continue basic income programs in their own cities.

In a similar program in Stockton in 2019, 125 people received $500 a month for two years and were able to pay off debt, get full-time jobs, and reported lower rates of anxiety and depression, a study found. during the first year of the program.

Last July, California lawmakers also approved the first state-funded Guaranteed Income Plan, awarding $35 million for monthly cash payments to eligible pregnant people and young adults who have recently left foster care. .

The Long Beach pilot, meanwhile, will help single parents like Diana Garcia, 48, who lives in the Washington neighborhood with her 17-year-old son. Garcia earns minimum wage as a restaurant worker with limited hours due to a health issue and is currently more than $1,000 behind on her electric bill.

Another resident, Maria Barrera, 36, said she was also struggling to meet her utility bills and keep food on the table for her 15-year-old son and one-year-old daughter. . Barrera works as a cleaner and earns $1,200 a month.

“My biggest day-to-day concern would be paying bills and rent,” she said.

The city plans to begin accepting applications in the coming months with payments beginning in early summer, according to Lucius Martin, special project manager for the Long Beach Department of Economic Development.

The program is made possible by the Long Beach Recovery Act, a plan supported by federal and state stimulus funds to pay for economic and public health initiatives for Long Beach residents affected by the pandemic, as well as start-up funds that were donated by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in 2020 to help select cities create these kinds of pilot programs.

The $1.6 million program will allow 250 families to receive the funds on an ongoing basis starting this summer, and that number will eventually increase to serve up to 500 families. “I think basic income programs are the way of the future,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in an interview with The Post.

The Long Beach initiative will follow the launch last week of Los Angeles County’s guaranteed income pilot program, Breathe. The program began accepting applications Thursday for some residents to receive $1,000 a month for three years.

Residents of certain geographic areas of Long Beach are eligible to apply, including those in the 90813 zip code. To be considered, they must apply by April 13.

Martin said that while households in the 90813 ZIP code are encouraged to apply for the LA County program, the families chosen will not be eligible to participate in the Long Beach one.

The two programs also have different requirements: Long Beach’s Guaranteed Income program will be specifically for single-parent households in ward 90813 with incomes below the poverty line or those earning $27,000 and under, while the requirements of the LA County Breathe program are broader.

To be eligible, residents must live in an LA County neighborhood with a median household income no higher than the county, as well as an income that is no higher than the area median for people living alone. and no more than 20% above the county median for a household of two or more. To determine their eligibility, residents can look up their address on the Breathe website.

The Long Beach program, like the one in LA County, will be open to noncitizens as long as they reside in the 90813 ZIP code, Martin said. “We’re not looking to find out if someone is a citizen of the United States or if they have a social security number,” he said.

The city is currently in the process of selecting two separate vendors who will help administer the funds and conduct the research portion of the program. The research will examine where and how grantees spend their money, as well as the overall value of this type of initiative.

According to Martin, officials hope to make the process as easy as possible for families in need.

“They won’t have to do anything but fill out a monthly survey on how they spent their money,” he said.

In addition to funding for families, the city will also work with partners and community organizations to provide services to Neighborhood 90813, including child care and employment opportunities, among other supports.

Officials had hoped to start accepting applications last summer, but the process was put on hold as the city determined whether the funds would count toward an individual’s gross income. In some cases, that could determine whether or not a person would qualify for federal programs or food assistance, Martin said.

But in January, the U.S. Treasury Department confirmed that American Rescue Plan Act funds used to help those affected by COVID-19 will not count toward annual gross income and the city was able to go from l before, Martin said.

The city is still working out the details of how the program will work, how the funds will be allocated, and the specific requirements needed to serve the city’s most vulnerable population, but officials expect to have updates in the coming months. weeks.

“If (the program) is successful, and I think it will be, I think the city can look at expanding programs like this and hopefully the federal government will step in as well,” Garcia said, ” and will also try to extend programs like this.”

Writer Jason Ruiz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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