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While guaranteed income and cash transfer programs have existed in other portions of the world, such as Latin America, since the 1980s (Fotta and Schmidt, 2023), the discussion of Universal Basic Income in the 2020 presidential debates and the widespread financial need triggered by the pandemic brought these concepts popular attention in America (  The broad category of cash transfers (direct transfer of money to a target population) can be offered with or without behavioral conditions, with guaranteed income programs representing a subset of unconditional cash transfer programs that make consistent payments on a regular basis, with no strings attached (Center for High Impact Philanthropy, 2024).  The Universal Basic Income, an even more specific cash transfer, is differentiated by its unconditionality and universality - “a periodic cash payment to all residents in a jurisdiction, without obligation” (Lee, 2021).  These approaches show great promise in poverty alleviation by providing recipients autonomy over their spending, as well as other associated benefits like increased food security, improved health care, and spillover benefits like improved local economic activity (Stedman, 2023).  Such benefits could be particularly reparative for communities of color in Los Angeles, who are more likely to live below the federal poverty line than white counterparts (Ending Poverty Summit, 2024), and for the Black and Latinx population which continue to be overrepresented in experiences of homelessness (LAHSA, 2023).  Given the potential positive impacts for Black, Latinx, and indigenous populations, many see guaranteed income as a potential vehicle for reparations (The California Reparations Report, 2023).


How can these programs impact people experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness?  What sums of unconditional money could prevent vulnerable populations from falling into homelessness?  What other benefits are guaranteed income pilots uncovering in their evaluations?  Would it be more helpful in fighting homelessness to use a universal approach like UBI rather than targeted guaranteed income?  What are the most effective ways to utilize cash transfers to stabilize housing?  Join us to explore these questions and more as we learn about a cash transfer pilot program that targets people experiencing homelessness from Denver known as the Denver Basic Income Project and LA City’s effort to facilitate and evaluate a basic income program for families living in poverty known as the Big Leap!

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