800 Compton Residents Receive Free Cash in 2-Year Pilot Program

COMPTON’S Aja Brown is a co-founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. Its donors include Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who gave the initiative $3 million in July. (Jason Armond Los Angeles Times)

By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde

(Compton, CA) Jacqueline Andrade and her husband both lost their jobs in March, at a point during the pandemic when grocery store shelves were being ransacked and government aid seemed far off.

She was running low on groceries for her family, and formula and diapers for her 3-month-old son. She seriously contemplated having to make diapers out of cloth, and scrambling for ways to feed her hungry baby. 

“It was something I never thought I would have to face,” the 37-year-old Compton mother said. “We were unprepared for this.”

With the help of her children’s school, KIPP SoCal, and nonprofit One Family Los Angeles, she got access to a one-time $500 payment. It was a lifesaver that helped her cover basic needs in a moment of desperation. But it’s not the same as a steady paycheck. 

It is people like Andrade whom a new guaranteed income pilot program is trying to reach, Compton Mayor Aja Brown said. Later this year, the mayor said, the Compton Pledge will begin giving 800 Compton residents free cash for a two-year period. Brown said she thinks the program will have the greatest number of participants in a single U.S. city.

That kind of help, she said, “would be a stress reliever for our community.”

“I recognized that there’s a need for additional income, especially with the pandemic resulting in record high numbers of unemployment throughout the entire country,” the mayor said. “This is a great opportunity to address inequalities for Black and brown people and also additional opportunities for upward mobility.”

So far, private donors have contributed $2.5 million to the Fund for Guaranteed Income, a charity headed by Nika Soon-Shiong, daughter of the Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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