The Compton Pledge is a landmark guaranteed income initiative that will distribute recurring cash relief to low-income residents for 2 years, marking the largest city-based guaranteed income pilot in the U.S. The idea of guaranteed income (GI) is simple but powerful: unconditional, direct, and continuous cash payments delivered to all residents to supplement existing welfare benefits. By ensuring that no individual falls below a defined income floor over time, GI creates a true safety net. It enables families to weather crises and government actors and philanthropists to invest directly in the path towards economic justice and reparations.
The case for guaranteed income nationally and in Compton is undeniable. Compton, a city of 95,000 residents, acutely faces many of the issues that have defined the national conversation about racial injustice and structural inequality. Many of Compton’s residents, of whom 30% are Black and 68% are Latino, are either unemployed, poorly paid, or ineligible for government assistance. Upwards of 1 in 5 Comptonians live in poverty–double the nationwide average. Local housing assistance in Compton is at capacity, presenting unaffordable hardships for a city where 46% of residents are renters. In Compton, rates of unemployment have risen to 21.9% since the beginning of COVID-19, and a growing number of residents regularly rely on food pantries.
PRIORITIZING the agency and rights of residents
The program will implement more inclusive and effective mechanisms for cash transfer delivery.
Target the 1 in 4 who are unbanked, the formerly incarcerated who are denied welfare benefits, and the undocumented who are denied the right to a fair, minimum wage.
Secure government waivers to ensure participants’ continued access to existing benefits.
CATALYZING systemic change
The program will build a first-of-its-kind coalition to strengthen the social safety net beyond the duration of the pilot.
Partner with trusted, local financial institutions.
Offer services from community based organizations.
Examine policy solutions for long-term, sustainable financing of guaranteed income at the municipal level.
Build a new GovTech platform for cities to implement direct cash transfers.
Stories from recipients will inform the conversation about cash transfers locally and across the world.
organizations and pilot participants.
Invest in long-standing efforts by community leaders to elevate narratives that challenge the persistence of economic inequality.
LEADING the national research agenda
We will be the first guaranteed income initiative in the country to:
Test cash transfer implementation mechanisms, including digital platforms to encourage financial inclusion, deliver benefits, and encourage grassroots political organizing.
Explore whether cash is more effective if given in lump sums (as done in COVID-19 emergency funds) or in smaller recurring amounts, as well as the most effective timing for payments.
Examine how people can most effectively be enrolled in cash transfer programs, particularly undocumented and formerly incarcerated people, and recommend ways to rapidly and safely disburse funds to those underserved by consumer financial services, while protecting data anonymity.
Mayor of Compton
Chief of Staff, Mayor Aja Brown
Compton Pledge Co-Director
Jamarah Hayner is a fifteen-year veteran of communications and community outreach in both the public and private sectors. Starting her career as the Director of Policy and Special Initiatives as part of the Community Affairs Unit for then Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jamarah has worked in communications and community engagement for several California elected officials. Jamarah has made it a priority to ensure that communities and small businesses are valued stakeholders in projects affecting their neighborhoods. A tested communications advisor, she has led successful earned and paid media campaigns as a spokesperson in outlets including the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio and Business Journal affiliates. Jamarah is involved in several community-based organizations including the Los Angeles County Workforce Development Commission, the Greater Los Angeles Area African American Chamber of Commerce (co-chair), the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the Healthy Air Alliance.