In the fight for a more equitable and just economy, local governments are important allies alongside purpose-driven businesses and others. Local governments have the power to set critical policies and enact laws that can support equitable job opportunities, address chronic poverty within their jurisdictions, and create more vibrant, inclusive communities overall.
In April 2021 the City of Los Angeles announced a $24 million Basic Income Guaranteed program as a part of the city’s budget. At SPECTRUM21 Virtual, Ron Frierson, the Director of Economic Policy for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, discussed the ambitious pilot program’s goals and how it will work.
“Participants will receive a monthly, obligation-free disbursement of $1,000 per month for a year,” Frierson said. “This pilot is being launched to provide assistance to our most economically vulnerable Angelinos.”
The details of the pilot program are still being finalized, but it is intended to help families at or below the poverty line. In his session, Frierson mentioned that the pandemic has been particularly devastating for those who were already impacted by poverty.
“Poverty touches more than 38 million people living in the United States today,” Frierson said. “That’s almost 12 percent of the total population. And it’s sad to say that the majority of those people living in poverty are minorities and 31 percent of those are children. Sadly, as we know, the pandemic exacerbated these inequities.”
Focusing on economic pandemic recovery efforts has become a major part of Frierson’s job. In these efforts, Frierson emphasized the importance of centering marginalized communities which have been more greatly impacted by the pandemic.
“As director of economic policy, my focus has been on economic recovery and the city’s business sectors, especially those hardest hit by the pandemic,” Frierson said. “Small businesses like restaurants and the tourism and hospitality industries were hit the hardest. It just so happens that these industries have the greatest number of women and minorities working in them as well.”
Frierson closed his session by calling out an ambitious goal that actors across sectors in the impact space should chase as well.
“The issues that got us to this point are like 50 years in the making, but we’re owning it, and we’re doing what it takes to stop them from going another 50 years,” he said.
Watch Frierson’s full session above.