In a move to combat homelessness and provide financial stability, Long Beach is doubling down on a cash aid initiative, ready to slice through the red tape and pump money directly into the pockets of low-income families. The city's Long Beach Pledge guaranteed income pilot program is set to expand with an additional 200 households set to receive monthly stipends, courtesy of a $1.2 million funding boost. Starting in January, qualified families living below the poverty line can apply to get $500 monthly for a year, aiming to shore up their financial defenses against life's unpredictabilities.
"I'm proud that we are expanding the Long Beach Pledge to a second cohort of families in West and North Long Beach," Mayor Rex Richardson said in a press release. The program is designed to help gently mitigate the harsh financial burdens many residents face, providing a financial lifeline to cover vital expenses such as housing, bills, and food. Families interested in the program will be able to quickly apply online in the new year, with the website offering assistance in multiple languages and in-person support at local public libraries.
Applications will open their digital doors early in January 2024 on the program website, with eligibility firmly grounded in need: households must have children, live within selected zip codes, and have incomes at or below the federal poverty threshold. The City is clear on its intention to prevent as many families as possible from sliding into homelessness, outlining the program's expanded scope as part of its comprehensive response to the local homelessness emergency.
"Expanding the City's guaranteed income pilot program is an upstream prevention strategy that will provide critical funding for families to cover basic needs, work towards financial stability, and possible life-changing diversion from experiencing homelessness," Alison King, Acting Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, was quoted as indicating in the press release. The current pool of 250 families already enrolled in the Long Beach Pledge is set to receive funds through April 2024. The transparency of the additional support for these families highlights Long Beach's commitment to a sturdy economic recovery, particularly for single-headed household families hit hardest by the pandemic-induced recession.
The success of the pilot, operated by the City's Department of Economic Development in concert with the Fund for Guaranteed Income (F4GI), has been a beacon guiding the City Council to unanimously vote in favor of its expansion. The City also joins hands with California State University, Long Beach Research Foundation, which will conduct a study, a randomized control trial, to measure the pilot's impact on the participating low-income families. This glimpse into a systematic approach to social aid could offer valuable insights, forging paths to long-term solutions to the economic hardships faced by many.