California has become the home of grand social experiments, and a new one they just rolled out is getting all kinds of attention. The city of Compton is the latest to launch a pilot program that will guarantee free, recurring cash payments to 800 of its lowest-income residents. The payments will come with no strings attached.
Compton Mayor Aja Brown announced in a statement Monday that the program looks to “challenge the racial and economic injustice plaguing both welfare programs and economic systems.”
Brown went on to say, “People in our community are going through tough times, and I know that guaranteed income could give people a moment to navigate their situation and have some breathing room to go back to school, explore a new career path, spend time with their children, or improve their mental and emotional wellbeing.”
The payments, which will begin later this year, will be directed toward a select group of “pre-verified” residents. Those selected will receive monthly cash payments ranging from $300 to $600 for two years. The payments will be made available to “irregularly or informally employed residents, immigrants of varied legal status, and the formerly incarcerated.”
The coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns have impacted the city of Compton with an unemployment rate that now stands at 21.9%. The program joins Stockton, California, which launched the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) program in 2019, the first guaranteed-income program in the country. SEED is a much smaller program though, giving 125 Stockton residents $500 a month for 18 months.