LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The city of Long Beach is soon going to start sending $1,000 checks for at least the next three months to help low-income renters get through the COVID-19 economic crisis.
Mayor Robert Garcia said the program will send the $1,000 checks to help almost 1,800 renter households for the next three months. The payments will be sent directly to their landlords to help pay their rent.
The city will continue to evaluate whether to extend the program for a longer time and expand it to more families, particularly if the state and federal governments offer more financial assistance.
"It's a form of direct assistance, of guarantee income," Garcia told Eyewitness News. "It's a way in the future we can ensure people have the basic needs that they need, around food, rent and child care, to survive."
The Long Beach City Council approved the Long Beach CARES Emergency Rental Assistance program in June.
The rental assistance will be provided for Long Beach residents who have lost income because of COVID-19 and meet federal low-income requirements.
The program's application period has already ended for the first round of checks. The city says there were 2,410 applications received and those approved for the payments were chosen by lottery as long as they met the program requirements.
The city approved 1,767 applications.
The checks are expected to be mailed out starting around Sept. 7.
"Any direct support to residents helps," Garcia said. "You hear a lot about universal basic income now. It is the future. We have to rethink the economy. People are struggling. and direct assistance, no questions asked, is the way to do it."
In a separate but related issue, the Long Beach City Council is considering whether to establish a universal basic income pilot program to help a wider number of the city's residents.
Garcia has asked city officials to study the issue and report on possible sources of funding from grants and private foundations.
The City Council is expected to consider the universal basic income pilot program on Tuesday.