Compton Mayor Aja Brown

Compton Mayor Aja Brown Offers Guaranteed Income to 800 Residents for 2 years

In a new pilot program, Compton Mayor Aja Brown is testing the concept of universal income by offering 800 residents in her community basic income. The conversation around this concept has picked up steam since the start of COVID-19 pandemic and the effects it has had on people across the United States.

According to ComptonPledge.org the Compton Pledge is a landmark guaranteed income initiative that will distribute recurring cash relief to low-income residents for 2 years, marking the largest city-based guaranteed income pilot in the U.S.

The idea of guaranteed income (GI) is simple but powerful: unconditional, direct, and continuous cash payments delivered to all residents to supplement existing welfare benefits. By ensuring that no individual falls below a defined income floor over time, GI creates a true safety net. It enables families to weather crises and government actors and philanthropists to invest directly in the path towards economic justice and reparations.

The case for guaranteed income nationally and in Compton is undeniable. Compton, a city of 95,000 residents, acutely faces many of the issues that have defined the national conversation about racial injustice and structural inequality. Many of Compton’s residents, of whom 30% are Black and 68% are Latino, are either unemployed, poorly paid, or ineligible for government assistance. Upwards of 1 in 5 Comptonians live in poverty–double the nationwide average. Local housing assistance in Compton is at capacity, presenting unaffordable hardships for a city where 46% of residents are renters. In Compton, rates of unemployment have risen to 21.9% since the beginning of COVID-19, and a growing number of residents regularly rely on food pantries.

In an article with the Los Angeles Times Mayor Aja Brown said “I recognized that there’s a need for additional income, especially with the pandemic resulting in record-high numbers of unemployment throughout the entire country,” “This is a great opportunity to address inequalities for Black and brown people and also additional opportunities for upward mobility.”

On Instagram Aja Brown made the following announcement:

I’m honored to work with an incredible team of warriors for equity, access, and justice for all. Together, we’re launching a Guaranteed Income Pilot to provide direct cash monthly payments to 800 #Compton residents for two years. We plan to measure the impact that regular cash supplemental income has on reducing trauma, increasing well-being, improving opportunity to make long term decisions for upward mobility, and improving financial literacy through reduced reliance on predatory lending institutions and educational tools and training.

Our pilot is carefully designed with our great city in mind and will reflect the diversity of our community, including the undocumented. We’ve designed a system that will provide free access to financial tools, checking and savings accounts, and much more. Follow @comptonpledge to learn more as we implement our program.

View this post on Instagram

I’m honored to work with an incredible team of warriors for equity, access and justice for all. Together, we’re launching a Guaranteed Income Pilot to provide direct cash monthly payments to 800 #Compton residents for two years. We plan to measure the impact that regular cash supplemental income has on reducing trauma, increasing well-being, improving opportunity to make long term decisions for upward mobility and improving financial literacy through reduced reliance on predatory lending institutions and educational tools and training. Our pilot is carefully designed with our great city in mind and will reflect the diversity of our community, including the undocumented. We’ve designed a system that will provide free access to financial tools, checking and savings accounts and much more. Follow @comptonpledge to learn more as we implement our program. Our pledge wouldn’t be possible without our strong Community & advisory coalition partners— @drsharonilittle @iamkeithcurry @comptoncollege @principalrahh @CHIRLA @onefairwage @Comptonadvocates @nhslacounty @osopepatrisse @MBK_Alliance @Compton_YB @snangels @Original_Nation @shieldsforfamilies @ColorCompton @BCrusade I’m also honored to be a founding member of @mayorsforagi , spearheaded by @michaeldtubbs . We’re committed to launching pilots across the nation. I’d also like to thank @chambers4change for her strong support of my leadership and our program from the beginning, and the city council for approving a resolution of support! @comptoncityhall Article available in the link above.

A post shared by Aja Brown (@ajalbrown) on

Brown said she hopes the impact of the cash transfers will ripple across her Compton community, beyond those who are selected for the pilot program. Having been raised by a single mother, she knows just how much it would mean.

“She worked really hard and focused on providing my brother and I the best quality of life she could,” Brown said. “I know firsthand that having a guaranteed income would have made a tremendous difference.”

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