Long Beach is expanding its guaranteed income pilot program to include 200 additional families in West and North Long Beach. The City Council OK’d the plan Tuesday night.

Two-hundred and fifty families are already enrolled in the program, known as Long Beach Pledge. Since May, they’ve received $500 per month to help offset living expenses like groceries, rent and other household needs. The payments are expected to last for 12 months.

Bo Martinez, the city’s director of Economic Development, told the City Council on Tuesday that the families currently enrolled say they’re dealing with housing and food security issues and that expanding the program could help the new families be able to better afford necessities.

It’s unclear when new families can begin applying. The expanded program is being administered by the same firm that is handling the current round of payments, Fund for Guaranteed Income, which is based out of El Segundo.

When the guaranteed income program first opened, it received 2,800 applicants for just 250 spots. At the time applicants had to live in the 90813 ZIP code in Central and West Long Beach, which is home to some of the poorest households in the city.

It was estimated last year that about a quarter of households in that area were living below the federal poverty line. This year, the federal poverty line was set at $30,000 for a household of four.

This new round of payments will be open to more communities in West and North Long Beach, but details have not yet been released about exactly who qualifies.

The guaranteed income program is being expanded in part to help prevent more people from falling into homelessness

A city memo about the program said that of the families currently receiving monthly payments, 25% said they were at risk of eviction and 50% said they were having trouble paying for food.

In the city’s 2023 homeless count report, financial issues were some of the most frequently cited reasons why someone had fallen into homelessness. Of the homeless people who answered survey questions, 35% said financial reasons were to blame and 16.3% said an eviction contributed to them being unhoused.

Unemployment (35.4%) was the reason given by most respondents.

Long Beach Pledge is being funded with $2.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds that the city received during the pandemic.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.