Compton to launch largest guaranteed income program in nation

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By 2UrbanGirls

COMPTON — Mayor Aja Brown has announced that 800 Compton residents will take part in the Compton Pledge, which will provide some of the city’s most vulnerable residents with a few hundred dollars per month at no cost to the taxpayers.

“I’m honored to work with an incredible team of warriors for equity, access and justice for all,” Brown said. “We’re launching a Guaranteed Income Pilot to provide monthly cash payments to 800 Compton residents for two years.”

Private donors have contributed $2.5 million to the Fund for Guaranteed Income, a charity headed by Nika Soon-Shiong, daughter of Patrick Soon-Shiong, a doctor and billionaire businessman who is now owner of the Los Angeles Times.

Nika Soon-Shiong is also a co-director of the Compton Pledge. Funds will be administered by the city’s Compton Community Development Corporation.

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.

The Compton Pledge has yet to reveal who donated to support the program, how participants will be selected or how much and how often recipients will receive cash and what the research methods would be.

According to the ComptonPledge.org website, more than one in five Compton residents live in poverty, which is double the national average. Housing assistance in the city is also at capacity, which creates economic hardship in a high-cost housing market.

The program will assist those often excluded from federal and state aid programs, including undocumented immigrants and formerly incarcerated residents.

A similar program was promoted to Compton residents this summer to help residents, eligible to receive an EBT card, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents who qualified for an EBT card were asked to download the EBT app and complete a survey to be entered into a drawing for $1,000.

“I got the $1,000 with the EBT app and it helps a lot especially with two kids, rent and bills,” said Angie Melendez.  “I got it by answering a COVID survey but the HOPIC messaged me and I had to send them info on my last day of work that stated I was released from work due to COVID and state the months of rent I am behind.”

“The $1,000 was a one-time thing that was given away by EBT from private donors, like a raffle for Compton EBT recipients that were selected at random,” said Maria Chavez.

“Fresh EBT is not affiliated with any government entity or EBT card issuer,” said Cynthia Macon.  “The people promoting this should have indicated it is also part of a marketing promotion.”

The Compton City Council approved the guaranteed income pilot program during its Sept. 22 City Council meeting.

“I think the residents are fortunate Mayor Brown has been part of the discussions on guaranteed income,” said Compton City Manager Craig Cornwell. “This team will support this initiative with no funding from the city.”

“I want to thank the leadership of Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs who was approached by a research team to show people in poverty aren’t lazy,” Brown said.

The program is focused on reducing trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder in Compton.

The program will assist the selected participants go back to school, start a business and improve their overall quality of life. During the meeting, the goal was to start the program Oct. 15 with funding reaching residents in November.

Mayor Brown is up for re-election in April and is currently facing a recall from the city’s residents.

2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood area. She can be reached at 2urbangirls@gmail.com.