Why the mayor of Compton is launching a guaranteed basic income pilot

CBC News

Mayor Aja Brown is bringing a guaranteed income program to Compton, Calif.

She announced earlier this week that the Compton Pledge ensures a basic income to 800 of the city's residents over the next two years, focusing on those who have the most difficulty making ends meet.

The mayor says this program can help her city address inequality and provide a sense of relief for single-parent households, people working multiple jobs, undocumented immigrants, formerly incarcerated residents and more. 

Private donors have funded Compton's guaranteed income program, which is set to provide residents with $300 to $600 U.S. dollars monthly starting later this year. The pilot is based on a smaller study in Stockton, Calif., five hours north of Compton, that took place last year.

Here is part of the mayor's conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off.

What would a program like this have done for your family when you were growing up?

My mother was a poor, single mother who worked very hard to provide for my brother and I. I know for a fact that a guaranteed income would have had a transformative difference in her ability to just have peace of mind and to actually plan for things in the future. To actually have savings and plan for unplanned expenses that ultimately pushed my family into different levels of instability on many occasions growing up.

You've said elsewhere that your family was just an emergency away from having to move. You think a lot of families are in that situation?

Oh, absolutely. I know for a fact that many families are in that situation and facing even more instability with the global pandemic.

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