October 28, 2021

LAWT News Service


In one of the wealthiest states in one of the richest countries in the world, a $400 emergency could have a crippling effect on some LA families, leaving them without necessities, such as food, healthcare, or the worst outcome, a home. The city's Basic Income Guaranteed: LA Economic Assistance Pilot (BIG: LEAP) is a pilot program to address economic fragility and help families tackle unforeseen emergency expenses or address other household needs. Applications for the program will be available on Friday, October 29th, through Sunday, November 7th. Everyone is welcome to apply, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. You can apply at: www.BIGLEAP.lacity.org.

The program will operate similarly to the Angeleno Card program, which offered a one-time $1000 cash transfer to qualifying families during the pandemic. The funds were unrestricted, and recipients could use the money to address whatever need they saw best.

Michelle G*(we've omitted her last name to respect her privacy), a recipient of an Angeleno card, said, "It was amazing to be able to provide for my family. I used the card to pay for [sic] my bills and buy groceries." When asked how she would use the funds if they were available every month, she added, "Oh well, they would help me fix my car, keep me out of debt, keep the light bill and the rent up to date." And what do you think was the most significant benefit of having these funds available this way? She took a beat and answered, "Living without the burden of ­having to worry about how I was going to pay."

When BIG: LEAP was introduced, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson saw the program's benefit and invested an additional $3.4M to increase the number of participants from his District, which has been hard hit by the pandemic. He understood that families with the

necessary cash to make ends meet is a first step in creating vibrant, thriving local economies where money circulates and works as a rising tide. To that end, during the pandemic, he developed the Senior Meals program, which was replicated throughout the state to address the needs of a vulnerable population and help local businesses survive. This is how governments should work to reduce the strain on our social safety nets.

These programs demonstrate an understanding that residents are best equipped to solve their own problems and restore faith in the community that the government is responding to their needs. Sometimes the best thing government can do is provide resources and get out of the way. 

Category: Business