WeHo considers pilot guaranteed income program

Wave Staff Report

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The city, in collaboration with nonprofit partner the National Council of Jewish Women/LA, will open applications for the first pilot project for guaranteed income in the nation aimed at evaluating the impact of cash payments on the financial stability and quality of life of older LGBT adults.

Guaranteed income is a direct and regular cash payment provided to a specific group of people for a designated time. Guaranteed income pilots are a way to test the impact of the payments while also providing a service to help financially stabilize community members and learn information to help create future, evidence-based policies and programs.

Community members who are interested in applying for the West Hollywood Pilot for Guaranteed Income must reside in the city of West Hollywood, be 50 years or older, identify as LGBT and have an individual income of $41,400 or less.

The application period will run from Feb. 25 to March 6.

In January, the City Council voted to join the Mayors for Guaranteed Income network and directed city staff to develop a guaranteed income pilot program for residents, including identification of research, funding, community implementation and evaluation partners.

With the help of the network and the Center for Guaranteed Income at the University of Pennsylvania, the city has developed a data-driven guaranteed income pilot that will be the first LGBT-focused pilot and the first older adult-focused pilot in the nation.

Twenty-five applicants will be randomly selected to receive unconditional monthly $1,000 payments from April 2022 through September 2023.

The city seeks to test the emerging promise of guaranteed income to help prevent homelessness, support community members as they age in place and to reduce the stressors of poverty and financial insecurity. The pilot program will examine impact in the following areas:

  • Effectiveness of guaranteed income on participants’ housing stability, health and mental health and economic security.
  • Quantitative data to evaluate the collective impact of guaranteed income on different populations.
  • Unique qualitative narrative and ethnographic information to provide greater understanding into the income challenges faced by LGBT older adults in West Hollywood and inform the creation of evidence-based policies and programs to better support the health and well-being of LGBT older adults.
  • And testing the concept of guaranteed income to evaluate whether to expand the initial pilot or create new or additional pilots in the city.

According to the Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law, LGBT older adults are financially less secure than their non-LGBT peers due to lifelong disparities and barriers to accessing programs that support aging adults. The national poverty rate for LGBT people is 21.6% as compared to 15.7% for non-LGBT people.

The city’s high percentage of older adults living in poverty and the high percentage of LGBT residents makes it the ideal location to pilot this focused intervention, a city spokesperson said.

The 2019 West Hollywood Community Study previously identified the financial vulnerability of LGBT individuals, older adults and community members living on fixed, low incomes. According to the study, residents ages 55 and older make up 23% of the city’s population but represent 44% of residents living in poverty.

Overall, 22% of the city’s residents live on a fixed income and 14% live below the federal poverty level. Additionally, nearly 80% of West Hollywood residents are renters, and the cost of rent is higher in West Hollywood than many other areas and is not a fixed cost.

The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the challenges facing people living in poverty and created financial stress for countless others who have lost jobs or wages.

The city will be engaging two nonprofit partners in the pilot. The first is the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at University of Pennsylvania as the research and evaluation partner responsible for creating and administering the research instruments, conducting the randomized selection of eligible applicants to participate in the pilot, collecting, processing and analyzing the data, and providing a report on the findings.

The city’s second partner is the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles, which will be responsible for conducting outreach to the community about the pilot, assisting community members to complete applications, verifying that West Hollywood residency and other pilot criteria are met to ensure the eligibility of each applicant, submitting the completed and verified applications to the Center for Guaranteed Income Research  for the randomized selection of participants and notifying the participants selected for the program.

To learn more and apply online, visit www.ncjwla.org/whpgi. People who need assistance applying may call (323) 852-8500, ext. 650, or may send an email message to whpgi@ncjwla.org.

For more information, contact Corri Planck, the city’s strategic initiatives manager, at (323) 848-6430.


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