Poverty Alleviation Initiative
“It’s hard to change the world, but it’s not so hard to change some people’s world” -Cass Sunstein
Official logo for Breathe: LA County's Guaranteed Income Program

THE APPLICATION IS NOW CLOSED

The University of Pennsylvania has randomly selected applicants for Breathe and we are in the process of contacting them. We anticipate this process will take several weeks. We also anticipate that some applicants selected will likely drop out of the process for various reasons. That means new applicants will have to be randomly selected, and then we need to reach out to them. If you have not been contacted, it does not mean you have not been selected. Because this process is still ongoing and not yet completed, we cannot tell you whether or not you have been chosen. Once this process is completed, we will update this website.

Please Note: LA County will NEVER ask you to provide information over the phone, like a Social Security Number (SSN), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), bank account information, or passwords. If you receive a call claiming to be from LA County or one of its programs requesting such information, please report it to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs by calling (800) 593-8222.

The main program phone line that was set up for the application process, (213) 342-1003, is no longer active. If you have any questions, please email: pai@ceo.lacounty.gov.

For additional resources, please see below:

Early research suggests that a Guaranteed Income program can provide households with financial stability during sharp economic swings to breathe a little easier, alleviate stress, and broaden recipients’ horizons, allowing them the time to complete deferred education and job training, as well as plans to fully participate in their communities. Importantly, these programs come without the scrutiny and work requirements of certain public benefits.

Los Angeles County is launching the pilot program Breathe to provide its residents the chance to “breathe” easier knowing they are more financially secure. Breathe is a guaranteed income pilot project that will provide 1,000 eligible residents with $1,000 per month for three years. While the benefits of guaranteed income programs have been documented, this will also be an independent research project that will be used to study the effects of this type of program so that the County and other jurisdictions can learn about the project’s impact on the economic stability of participants, as well as its impact on participants’ overall health and well-being.

Who is Eligible

To be eligible for this pilot project, you must meet all of these requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Live in a Los Angeles County neighborhood that falls at or below 100% of the County’s Area Median Household Income (AMI) (see Eligiblity Map)
  • Have a household income that falls at or below 100% of the County’s AMI, for a single person household, or have a household income that falls at or below 120% of the County’s AMI for households with two or more persons (see Income Eligibility Table)
  • Have been negatively financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Not be currently enrolled in another Guaranteed Income project offered by the County, a city, or other public or private entity

Note: Only one person will be eligible to participate in the project per household.

Income Eligibility Table

Number of Persons Residing in your household Maximum Annual Household Income Amount*
1 $56,000
2 $76,800
3 $86,400
4 $96,000
5 $103,700
6 $111,350
7 $119,050
8** $126,700

*   These amounts are for your pre-tax or gross income.

** For every additional member of your household above 8, add an another $7,700.

Eligibility Map

How to Apply?

To apply for this pilot project:

  • You must complete the program application on this website between March 31st – April 13th, 2022. The link to apply will appear during this open enrollment period only.

STEP 1: Find out if you are eligible by completing the online screening tool.

If you meet all of the eligibility requirements, go to Step 2. If you do not meet the eligibility requirements, please click here for a list of other resources that may be helpful to you.

STEP 2: If eligible, complete the online application survey form.

  • The application survey can be filled out on a computer or using your cell phone.
  • If you do not have online access through a computer or your cell phone, click here for a list of designated locations across the County you can visit to receive assistance with completing the application, during the open enrollment period.
Do you have a disability that makes it hard for you to apply? We can give you extra help. Click here for more information.

Selection Process and Research Survey

1,000 participants will be randomly selected from the pool of eligible applicants by the research team, the University of Pennsylvania, Center for Guaranteed Income Research, much like a blind drawing.

The date and time applicants apply, or the method, will not impact getting selected, as long as they apply during the open enrollment period.

The application includes a survey that the researchers will use to collect baseline data for those selected to be participants in the project or the control group. This survey includes a series of questions about your overall health and well-being. Some of these questions are sensitive and may be difficult to answer. These questions are only for purposes of gathering baseline data for the research study. Answers to them will not have any impact on being selected to participate in the project. They will be kept confidential and will only be used for research purposes. The participants will be randomly selected from the pool of eligible applicants who meet the stated eligibility requirements and submits an application during the application enrollment period.

To see the full detailed research plan, please click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Breathe—LA County’s Guaranteed Income Program?

Breathe is a guaranteed income project that will provide 1,000 eligible Los Angeles County residents with $1,000 per month for three years. While, the benefits of guaranteed income programs have been documented, this is an independent research project that will be used to study the effects of this type of program so that the County and other jurisdictions can learn about the project’s impact on the economic stability of participants, as well as its impact on participants’ overall health and well-being.

Guaranteed income is a monthly cash payment given directly to individuals. It is unconditional, with no strings attached on how to spend it and no work requirements. It is meant to supplement, not replace, the existing social safety net.

How will participants be selected?

1,000 participants will be randomly selected from the pool of eligible applicants by the research team, the University of Pennsylvania, Center for Guaranteed Income Research, much like a blind drawing.

The date and time applicants apply, or the method, will not impact the selection process, as long as they apply during the open enrollment period. As this is also an independent research study, applicants will be asked a series of questions to gather baseline data on overall health and well-being. Some of these questions are sensitive and may be difficult to answer. These questions are only for purposes of gathering baseline data for the research study. Answers to them will not have any impact on being selected to participate in the project. The participants will be randomly selected from the pool of eligible applicants who meet the stated eligibility requirements and submits an application during the application enrollment period.

What is the “control group?” Is there a benefit for participating?

After participants are selected, another 2,000 applicants will be randomly chosen to participate in the research study only, as part of the “control group.” Control group participants will not receive the monthly payment. They will complete periodic surveys and interviews about their well-being so that information can be compared to the “treatment group” and help determine whether or not the program was effective. Control group participants will receive $30 gift cards for each survey completed (this does not include the application and initial survey).

How will the research study work? How will success be measured?

The University of Pennsylvania, along with other local and national research partners, will conduct a randomized control study to measure the project’s outcomes. Participants are not required to participate in the research study in order to receive the monthly payments. For those who do choose to be part of the study, program and control group participants will be asked to provide information periodically on different aspects of their overall health and well-being across different domain areas, and will both receive a $30 gift card for each survey completed (this does not include the application and initial survey).

The individual information collected will only be used by the research team, and no individual information will be shared with anyone else. Only aggregate data will be shared with others to report on the overall project outcomes as a whole. The data will be used to help reform current policies, guide future programs, and aid in the expansion of our social safety net.

To see the full detailed research plan, please click here.

If selected, how will I receive my monthly Guaranteed Income distribution? Do I need to have a bank account?

Monthly payments to participants will be distributed through debit cards. You do not need to have a bank account to participate.

Who will I be engaging with if I’m selected to participate?

The County has partnered with a non-profit community-based organization, Strength-Based Community Change (SBCC) to be the program administrator for Breathe. SBCC and their team will be the people who answer questions from applicants, contact participants as needed, and troubleshoot any issues that arise over the course of the program. SBCC can be reached at: Breathe@sbaycenter.com.

How will I know if I’ve been selected as a participant?

SBCC will contact selected participants using the contact information provided with the application. If you are selected, SBCC will reach out to you directly.

Will I hear from someone if I wasn’t chosen?

The SBCC will email or text applicants who were not selected to be part of the program to let them know, if they checked the box giving the County permission to contact them outside of the application process and provided an email address and/or cell phone number in that section. Additionally, the County will update the website once all notifications to participants have been completed. If you check the website and it says that notifications to participants have been completed and you have not been contacted, then you have not been selected to participate.

I was not selected to participate but I still need help. Are there any resources available to me?

If you would like to find other resources that may help, please click on this link or contact SBCC at Breathe@sbaycenter.com.

Will my public benefits be affected by participating?

Some benefits could be affected while others will not be affected at all. Those selected to participate will have an opportunity to talk to a benefits counselor about their specific situation regarding any public benefits they are receiving such as CalWORKS, CalFresh, General Relief, and others before starting in the program. At that time, they will be able to decide whether or not they want to participate.

Who do I contact if my Guaranteed Income distribution is not received?

You should contact the program administrator, SBCC, at: Breathe@sbaycenter.com.

What should I do if my contact information changes?

If your contact information changes, please email us at pai@ceo.lacounty.gov or Breathe@sbaycenter.com and include your full name and the contact information you used to apply (phone number, email address, street address), along with your updated contact information.

Will I have to verify my information?

Yes, those selected to participate will need to show proof of meeting the eligibility requirements stated above before being enrolled in the program.

Why should we provide people with guaranteed income?

Early research suggests that cash may be the simplest yet most powerful way to do the most good for the most people. It can be powerful for three reasons. First, it moves quickly. Even with U.S. Treasury problems, 80 million American households have already received a check the government just mandated several months ago. Second, it allows for flexibility. No two American households are identical in their needs. While one will need funds for rent, others will need it for childcare, and yet others will need it for a laptop so their child can engage in distance learning. And of course, most families need something different every month. Third, many people are only partially covered by or completely left out of existing social safety net programs. Cash could help fill these gaps.

Why not just guarantee jobs or housing?

Cash is effective and immediate, but it is not a silver bullet. A cash infusion can address immediate needs and provide the level of consistency required to keep a household from going into a greater financial crisis. Larger systemic changes must be addressed to ensure affordable housing, healthcare, and jobs are available. We need meaningful, systemic change to our economy – and cash is just one part of that.

How do local communities benefit from guaranteed income?

More cash in people’s pockets keeps families financially secure and stimulates the local economy. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a guaranteed income could stimulate spending at the local level and generate much-needed state and local revenue to drive the economy across the country. Addressing the needs of our residents undoubtedly improves the circumstances of the broader community.

Glossary of Terms

Average Median Income (AMI): AMI is the median average income calculated for a particular area across our country. In this case, we are using household AMI for Los Angeles County and its census tracts.

Participants: People who have been selected to receive the Guaranteed Income payment of $1,000 per month for 36 months.

Treatment Group: The treatment group is another way of referring to the participants who have been selected to receive the Guaranteed Income payments.

Control Group: People who will not receive the Guaranteed Income payment but have been invited to participate in the research activities.

Non-Participants: People who will not receive a guaranteed income through the project and will not be invited to participate in research activities.

Screening Tool: The initial questions determine a participant’s eligibility for the Guaranteed Income project. Once eligibility has been approved, an in-depth application survey must be filled out. The screening tool must be completed online.

Application Survey: The application survey is a complete overview of your demographic background, mental, physical, and financial health, goals, and overall well-being. The survey may take approximately one hour to complete.  In-person assistance to complete the online application survey is available. The survey must be completed online.

Cash Distribution: The cash distribution is the monthly payment amount of $1,000 that will be given to participants in the project. These payments will be disbursed through debit cards.

Program Partners

Link to Supervisor Hilda L. Solis' website
Link to Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell's website
Link to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's website
Link to Supervisor Janice Hahn's website
Link to Supervisor Kathryn Barger's website
Link to the Ant-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion and Initiative
Link to Center for Strategic Partnerships website
Link to Office of Chief Information Office website
Link to Conrad N. Hilton Foundation website
Link to County Counsel website
Link to LA County Consumer and Business Affairs website
Link to Department of Public Social Services website
Link to First 5 LA website
Link to Internal Services Department website
Link to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income website
Link to Registrar-Recorder County Clerk website
Link to Strength Based Community Change's website
Link to California Endowment
Link to the California Wellness Foundation website
Link to the James Irvine Foundation website
Link to Kresege Foundation website
Link to the Center for Guaranteed Income Research website
Link to the Weingart Foundation website
X
Skip to content