LOS ANGELES — Basic income has had a banner year in Southern California, with cities from Compton to Long Beach to Los Angeles adopting pilot programs that provide residents with a set amount of money each month to improve their financial stability.
On Saturday, its proponents are celebrating with a rally in MacArthur Park.
“The country has changed in its acceptance of our movement,” said Kimberly Woods, volunteer engagement coordinator for rally sponsor, and basic income advocacy group, Income Movement.
Saturday’s third annual Basic Income Rally is a national event taking place in multiple cities. New York, Portland, Dallas, Madison, Denver and Atlanta are all holding events the same day as Los Angeles.
From 12 to 3 p.m. Saturday in MacArthur Park, community members, local organizations and basic income advocates will join forces with music, art, speeches and services for low-income people to find rental relief assistance, tax prep help and legal aid. LA City Councilmember Gil Cedillo’s office will also be giving away free groceries.
“We want to make sure people within the community have the opportunity to receive all the cash programs that are out there right now,” Woods said. That includes the federal child tax credit that will be in place through December and Golden State stimulus payments, the latest round of which are expected to be disbursed in early October.
“The pandemic has helped individuals to see that poverty is more of a systemic issue than they ever really thought,” Woods said. “It’s laid bare the kind of baked-in way that our system works against the everyday individual just trying to meet their basic needs and provide for their families.”
In 2019, 5.15 million Californians lived below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services poverty line is $12,490 for a single person and up to $43,430 for a family of eight.
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure reported that the $400 billion the federal government provided in COVID-inspired stimulus payments nationally helped lift 11.7 million people out of poverty in 2020.
The idea of government providing adult citizens with a set amount of money on a regular basis, or a basic income, first came to national prominence during the 2020 presidential election when candidate Andrew Yang said he supported the idea.
Since then, the idea has been gaining steady traction with half a dozen basic income pilot projects in Southern California cities alone.
Earlier this year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged $35 million to basic income pilots in the state budget. The Biden administration also expanded the child tax credit, providing up to $300 per month per qualifying child for millions of eligible families through December.