WeHo reopens applications for guaranteed income pilot project for seniors

West Hollywood City Hall, May 2022 – Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES

The City of West Hollywood will reopen applications for the Guaranteed Income Pilot Project to assess the impact of cash payments on financial stability and quality of life for seniors. Guaranteed income is a direct, regular cash payment – ​​with no strings attached – paid to a specific group of people for a set period of time. The application will open on the website from Friday, June 17, 2022 and will end on Sunday, June 26, 2022.

The program is no longer restricted to LGBTQIA seniors due to possible legal challenges. Starting June 1, 2022, community members can access www.ncjwla.org/whpgi to learn more.

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In January 2021, the West Hollywood City Council approved a paper for the City of West Hollywood to join the Mayors for Guaranteed Income (MGI) Network and directed staff to develop a Guaranteed Income pilot program for West Hollywood, including identification of research, funding, community implementation and evaluation partners.

There are many cities, counties, and private Guaranteed Income pilot projects across the country. Guaranteed income pilots are a way to test the impact of cash payments, while providing a service to help stabilize community members financially and learn insights to help create future evidence-based policies and programs. proofs.

Community members who wish to apply for the West Hollywood Guaranteed Income Pilot Program must reside in the city of West Hollywood, be 50 years of age or older, and have an individual income of $41,400 or less. The program will be hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women in Los Angeles. Those who need help applying can call (323) 852-8500, ext. 650, or can email whpgi@ncjwla.org.

A total of 25 qualified participants will be randomly selected from the pool of eligible applicants to receive unconditional monthly payments of $1,000 from September 2022 through February 2024.

The decision to reopen applications for the guaranteed income pilot project follows a change in March 2022 when the City realized that the pilot project, because it was created and supported by a government entity, was susceptible to challenges. due to the inclusion of LGBTQIA Criteria as a condition of eligibility to participate.

The city, with the help of Mayors for Guaranteed Income (MGI) and the Center for Guaranteed Income at the University of Pennsylvania (CGIR), had originally developed a data-driven Guaranteed Income pilot project to be launched in April 2022 and would have been the first LGBTQIA-focused pilot and the first senior-focused pilot in the country.

Protecting the rights of members of the LGBTQ community has been a long-standing City mission, and the City has worked tirelessly to identify and address inequities. For years, the city — along with LGBTQ advocates nationwide — has fought for equal civil rights, including the right to marry, the ability to access spousal protections and benefits, including healthcare and pensions, and efforts to reduce/eliminate discrimination in housing and employment. These hard-won rights and protections also come with other legal consequences. Although the City may engage in a legal battle over the disputed eligibility requirement, the implications of such a dispute had to be considered. Having an LGBTQIA identification as a condition of eligibility for the pilot could potentially violate the California Constitution, as sexual orientation is a suspect protected class in the state.

Therefore, the city attorney, city staff, and pilot partners recommended that the West Hollywood City Council revise the pilot to include three of the original four criteria (residence, age, and income level). ) in order to comply with legal obligations. , protect potential participants, and move forward with a program that serves community members who need financial support and stability. All candidates from the first iteration of the pilot will automatically be entered into the candidate pool for the revised pilot.

The City of West Hollywood is seeking to test the emerging promise of guaranteed income to help prevent homelessness, support community members as they age in place, and reduce the stressors of poverty and poverty. financial insecurity. Additionally, the West Hollywood Pilot for Guaranteed Income seeks to examine impact in the following areas:

  • Quantitative data to assess the collective impact of guaranteed income on different populations;
  • Capture unique qualitative narrative insights to better understand the income issues facing older adults in West Hollywood and inform the creation of evidence-based policies and programs to better support the health and well-being of older adults; and
  • Pilot the guaranteed income concept to assess whether to expand the initial pilot project or create additional new pilot projects in the city.

The City will engage two non-profit partners in the pilot project. The first is the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania as the research and evaluation partner responsible for creating and administering the research instruments, randomly selecting eligible applicants to participate in the project pilot, data collection/processing/analysis, and provide a report on the results.

The city’s second partner in the pilot is the National Council of Jewish Women of Los Angeles (NCJW|LA) as the nonprofit administrator implementing the pilot. NCJW was selected for their knowledge, experience and understanding of the nuances of guaranteed income. The NCJW will be responsible for raising community awareness about the pilot, assisting community members with completing applications, verifying that West Hollywood residency and other pilot criteria are met to ensure eligibility for each candidate, to submit completed and verified applications to the CGIR for the random selection of participants and notification of selected participants by the CGIR. They will also onboard and provide personalized benefits advice to each participant, manage a cohort of storytellers and storytelling activities that complement the research component of the pilot, and give participants the opportunity to share their experiences from their own voice. Additionally, the Nonprofit Administrator will contract and coordinate services with a Nonprofit Financial Distributor (using debit card services) to ensure funds are distributed to participants in a timely, predictable manner. and transparent.

Additional information on research and evaluation, as well as pilot partners and pilot funding can be found in the May 2022 City Council Staff Report at https://weho.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=&event_id=1357&meta_id=228362.

For more information, please contact Diane Kahn-Epstein, Strategic Initiatives Program Administrator for the City of West Hollywood, at (323) 848-6548 or dkahnepstein@weho.org.

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