Applications closed last month for the city’s guaranteed income pilot program, the Long Beach Pledge, and officials say they received around 2,700 applications from single-income families in the 90813 ZIP code looking to receive $500 monthly payments for a year.
Payments could begin rolling out as early as this spring, but there are a few things that need to happen first, said Courtney Chatterson, program manager for the Long Beach Recovery Act, a plan backed by federal and state recovery funds to pay for economic and public health initiatives like this one for Long Beach residents impacted by the pandemic.
The next step, according to Chatterson, is to go through the applications and request secondary documentation from certain applicants to verify their eligibility.
After that, 250 families will be chosen to receive the funds, and they will each talk to a financial counselor to guarantee that no participant’s access to local, county, state or federal public benefits is impacted by their participation in the Long Beach Pledge. Then, each household will get to choose whether they want to receive their monthly payments through direct deposit, Venmo, PayPal or in a prepaid card.
The 90813 ZIP code was chosen because it saw the highest need based on poverty rates and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the ZIP code’s 58,380 residents are Latino and renters, and about half live below 150% of the poverty level, according to the Long Beach Pledge website.
Along with receiving $500 a month for a year, families that are chosen will also receive tools to help them succeed like free child care, transportation support, workforce training and support for digital inclusion like cell phones and internet connection.
The city partnered with the nonprofit organization Fund for Guaranteed Income (F4GI) to help facilitate the program, build a platform to administer payments and connect participants to supportive services.
F4GI recently launched a similar guaranteed income program in Compton, which provided 800 families with payments between $300 and $600 every month for two years, no strings attached.
Throughout the year, a team of researchers will track the impact of the Long Beach program on the livelihood of participating families and in the end, the data will be collected and presented to the Long Beach City Council.
In a similar program in Stockton in 2019, 125 people received $500 per month for two years and were able to pay off debt, get full-time jobs and reported lower rates of anxiety and depression, according to a study within the first year of the program. The Stockton program found that individuals were spending their money on food, clothes, utilities and auto costs; less than 1% was spent on alcohol or tobacco.
The hope is that the success of the Long Beach Pledge will help inform the design of future guaranteed income policies at the local, state and federal level, according to the Long Beach Pledge website.