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. That kind of help, she said, “would be a stress reliever for our community.”
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 says, 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.
“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 Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong. [...]
Each selected family will receive at least a few hundred dollars on a recurring basis, as well as tools that will help them access financial guidance, Brown said. Parents or other residents caring for dependents may receive more. Anonymous researchers will track the participants’ spending and well-being.
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About the Author: Alejandra Reyes-Velarde is a Metro reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Before joining The Times in 2017, she wrote for the San Francisco Business Times and covered local news and crime for the Sacramento Bee. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she worked at the student-run Daily Bruin. Originally from Duarte, Calif., Reyes is a native Spanish speaker.