By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The 10-day application period for BIG:LEAP, the nation’s biggest guaranteed income pilot program, opens today.

People began applying for the pilot program, which stands for Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot, starting Friday online and in person. Hubs across the city, including at Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price’s Office and Trade Technical College, opened at 9 a.m. to provide internet and computer access, along with assistance with completing applications. The opening of the hub drew a line of people that stretched down the block from Price’s office.

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(credit: CBS)

The program will provide $1,000 in cash to 3,200 households. The funds will be distributed by debit card which can be reloaded monthly, and there are no restrictions on how to use the money.

“The whole basis of this program, this experiment, is to demonstrate that people, even in poverty, know best how to utilize resources to address their needs,” Price said.

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To be eligible for the program, applicants must live in Los Angeles and live at or below the poverty level. They must have a dependent child or be pregnant, and have had a financial or medical problem related to COVID-19.

Residents like Daniela Flores are an ideal candidate for the program. She is the mother of two young daughters, and her husband has been struggling to recover from COVID since contracting the virus more than a year ago. The situation has made it impossible for either of them to work — he’s still in therapy, and she has to care for the kids.

“That money is very important because I can rent the apartment,” she said.

The goal of the program, which uses nearly $40 million in Los Angeles city funds, is to break generational poverty and address racial inequities. However, critics of the program are asking if receiving free money every month will discourage employment. Academic partners, including USC, will study BIG:LEAP to see how it works.

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BIG:LEAP will be the largest guaranteed income program in the nation, and recipients will be selected in January.