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Unconditional income: a city in California will distribute money to residents, including illegal immigrants

The city of Compton, California, is launching a pilot program that guarantees monthly cash payments to 800 of its low-income residents - with no commitment on their part. CNN.

Photo: Shutterstock

In a statement released Monday, October 19, Mayor Aja Brown announced the launch of a guaranteed income program, which aims to “combat racial and economic injustice that harms both welfare programs and economic systems.”

The program is scheduled to begin later this year with a select group of “pre-screened” residents who will receive monthly cash payments for two years. A spokesman for one of the organizations working with the program said that they have not yet determined the exact amount of cash payments "beyond a few hundred dollars."

The program will also be available to "illegally or informally employed residents, immigrants with different legal status, and former prisoners."

“People in our society are going through tough times, and I know that a guaranteed income can give them a little wiggle room to return to school, explore a new career path, spend time with their children, or improve mental and emotional well-being,” said Brown in a statement. "Ensuring that all people have the opportunity to live with dignity is what we should all strive for in America."

One of the features of the Compton Pledge program is its online payment platform, which allows people to receive money through direct deposit into their account, wire transfers, or even prepaid debit cards.

In addition, the platform also provides free banking services and access to “existing financial, legal and advisory services”.

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Beacon of hope

According to the census, roughly one in five Compton lives below the poverty line - double the national average.

The coronavirus pandemic has also raised the city's unemployment rate, which is currently 21,9%. Authorities hope the program will reverse these worrisome trends. To date, the program has raised over $ 2,5 million in private and in-kind donations. This money will go to the Guaranteed Income Fund, a registered public charity.

“The vast majority of funds will go directly to the recipients of the remittances,” says the program's newsletter.

The program is led by Mayor Brown in partnership with the Income Guarantee Fund, the Jane Family Institute, a not-for-profit research institution, and dozens of other organizations that will advise on community implementation.

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Not the first try

The program, which organizers call “the largest and longest-term income guaranteed initiative,” is not the first of its kind in the state of California.

In 2019, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs launched the Stockton Demonstration of Economic Opportunity (SEEDS), the country's first income security program. SEEDS gave 125 Stockton residents $ 500 a month for 18 months.

And in June of this year, Tubbs and the Economic Security Project, a group that funded income-guaranteed projects, formed a Mayors for Guaranteed Income consortium of 25 mayors, including Brown, who are promoting these kinds of pilot programs.

The Compton program has received praise from many supporters of such initiatives.

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