Folks living in poor or working class neighborhoods in Long Beach have five more days to apply for Los Angeles County’s guaranteed income program, which will provide 1,000 randomly selected residents with $1,000 a month for three years—no strings attached.

The goal of the county’s Breathe guaranteed income program is not only to provide families with financial “breathing room,” but also to lead families from poverty to economic stability, said Ely Fournier, director of economic vitality at the Wilmington nonprofit Strength Based Community Change. The county is working with SBCC and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research to administer the program and analyze its effectiveness.

Applications opened last Thursday, March 31 and will close on April 13. Officials say the timeframe in which you apply will not affect your chances of being chosen.

“As long as you apply before midnight on the 13th, you will be eligible,” said Fournier.

The city of Long Beach has been experimenting with its own guaranteed income program that is on track to begin accepting applications by early summer. The program will provide $500 monthly payments for a year to up to 500 single-parent households in the 90813 ZIP code and examine its on Long Beach’s poorest neighborhood.

Here is more information on who is eligible for Breathe and how to apply:


In order to be eligible:

  1. You must be at least 18.
  2. You must live in a neighborhood where the average median income is lower than LA County’s. (In Long Beach this includes parts of the 90802, 90803, 90804, 90806, 90807, 90813, 90814 and the 90815 ZIP codes. Interested applicants can check their eligibility on the Breathe website.)
  3. You must have a household income that falls at or below LA County’s average median income ($56,000 for a single person household or $96,000 for a family of four).
  4. You must have suffered financial harm due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be described as someone who lost a job or had to pay for medical bills, said Carrie Miller, director of the county’s Poverty Alleviation Initiative. “It’s not about who had the biggest COVID impact,” she said.
  5. You must not be participating in another guaranteed income project like LA’s BIG:LEAP program or the Compton Pledge. (If you apply to Breathe and do not get chosen, you may still apply for the Long Beach program, as long as you meet its requirements.)

The LA County program, like the Long Beach program, will be open to noncitizens. Those who are homeless can also apply for the program as long as they live within the boundaries of the eligibility map.


The first step is to fill out the online screening form to determine a household’s eligibility. Those who meet the criteria will be directed to complete an online survey that should take 40 minutes to an hour to complete, according to Miller.

The survey will collect data about each applicant and ask sensitive questions related to a person’s overall health and well-being, mental health status and family dynamics. The survey is a modified version of a similar survey that was used for Los Angeles’ guaranteed income pilot, BIG:LEAP, but it has cut out nine pages of questions to make the process faster and will no longer ask about a person’s history of domestic violence, said Miller.

“The answer to those research questions has absolutely no bearing or effect on whether someone gets selected or not,” and data collected will remain confidential, said Miller. The survey will gather baseline data for researchers to measure the success of the program as it progresses, and those who are selected will be requested to fill out an optional survey every six months to track progress, said Miller.

SBCC has connected with over 70 community organizations across the county to conduct outreach and disseminate information about the program in their respective communities. “There is an element of trust that comes with working with community organizations who can walk them through the process,” said Fournier.

The application can be filled out on the county’s Breathe website using a computer or a cell phone. Those who cannot access the application or need extra assistance can visit one of the four in-person locations in the city:

  • Pacific Gateway Resource Center, 4811 Airport Plaza Drive, Suite 120. The site is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by phone at (562) 570-3700.
  • Cambodian Association of America, 2390 Pacific Ave. The site is open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can be reached by phone at (562) 218-9530.
  • Asian American Drug Abuse Program, 1360 E. Anaheim St., Suite 205. The site is open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can be reached by phone at  (562) 218-9530.
  • Iglesia Cristiana Templo Shalom, 1120 E. Market St. The site is open Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by phone at (310) 220-5129.

According to Miller, one of the biggest technical difficulties interested applicants have faced is accessing the application through an older browser.

“When you put in your address, the city, state and ZIP code should automatically prepopulate. But, if folks have a device that is older or has a weak connection, that option won’t pop up and they will receive an error message,” said Miller. Switching browsers or using a newer device should fix that problem, but for folks who still have trouble, a drop-in center can help troubleshoot, she said.

The application form is available online in over 100 languages, and folks can also call the hotline set up by SBCC at (213) 342-1003 to get assistance in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Portuguese. The SBCC can also redirect to organizations who can translate Korean, Cantonese and Mandarin. In Long Beach, folks can get assistance in Khmer and Vietnamese by visiting or calling the Cambodian Association of America.

How will the program work?

Miller said that it will likely take a few weeks for families to be chosen and that monthly grants will likely start being distributed this summer. The monthly payments will be distributed via gift card, and participants will be able to use the money as they see fit to meet their needs.

“There is ample evidence from guaranteed income projects around the country that financial support, coupled with the freedom to make their own decisions about how best to spend their money, offers families the flexibility they need to establish stability and invest in a more prosperous future for themselves,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl in a statement last month.

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.

“There is enough data to support that these programs do give families a push forward, they just need the opportunity,” said Fournier.