Christal Mims, Staff

Compton Mayor Aja Brown is creating a new program that guarantees 800 residents in the community a basic income for two years. The Compton Pledge is a pilot program being rolled out to help those who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” Brown said. “This is a great opportunity to address inequalities for Black and brown people and also additional opportunities for upward mobility.”

Residents of Compton who receive cash will be randomly chosen from a pre-verified group of “low-income Comptonians, working in collaboration with national and local community-based organizations which have built the infrastructure to deliver Covid-19 relief cash transfers to individuals who are excluded from welfare programs and formal financial institutions.”

The coronavirus pandemic has raised the city’s unemployment rate which now stands at 21.9 percent, according to the new program’s website.

The initiative would provide free cash for two years and will target low-income Black and Latinx individuals in addition to those who were formerly incarcerated.

Brown has partnered with the Fund for Guaranteed Income (F4GI), the Jain Family Institute (JFI) as well as local and national leaders that serve underprivileged communities and justice movements across Compton and the U.S. Private donors are also contributing $2.5 million to fund the program.

The exact amounts received by each participant will vary, but “each participant will receive at least several hundred dollars, with greater amounts received by parents with multiple children. The frequency of distribution will also vary but participants will be informed at the outset about the timing of their expected payments so that they may plan accordingly.”

Another feature of the Compton Pledge is its online payment system which will allow recipients to get their money through direct deposit, electronic transfers or prepaid debit cards. The platform will also provide no-cost banking and access to “existing financial, legal, and counseling services.”

The Compton Pledge will be the largest city-based guaranteed income pilot in the US and will “harness the power of unconditional cash transfers in service of racial and economic justice.”

“I know firsthand what guaranteed income could have done for my mother,” Brown said. “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 program is set to begin sometime later this year.