Chicago guaranteed basic income program will begin accepting applications on April 25


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Chicago residents can start applying for the city’s $500-per-month basic income pilot program in less than two weeks, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday.

Dubbed the Chicago Resilient Communities pilot, the cash assistance program will accept applications from 9 a.m. April 25 to 11:59 p.m. May 13. It will be one of the largest guaranteed income pilots in the U.S., with $31.5 million total going to 5,000 families in $500 payments.

A May lottery will determine who gets selected. Eligibility includes being an adult resident of Chicago, having suffered economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic and earning at most 250% of the federal poverty line, which is $57,575 for a household of three. Only one person from each household can apply. All residents can apply regardless of their immigration status.

“The Chicago Resilient Communities pilot is a way for us to efficiently support the communities and households that were hardest hit by the pandemic with dignity as well as build on our work to eradicate poverty,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “I’m deeply proud to launch the largest cash assistance program of its kind in the country as we continue to provide economic relief to residents and strengthen our city.”

Several nonprofits and social service agencies were selected to help lead the pilot. GiveDirectly, which has experience with running other guaranteed income pilots, will be the main administrator. YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago will oversee outreach and recruitment, while five other organizations will focus on specific communities in that outreach.

Those five groups are: Center for Changing Lives, Phalanx Family Services, Pui Tak Center, Spanish Coalition for Housing and United African Organization. Some target populations include those experiencing homelessness, residents living in the U.S. without legal authorization, people with disabilities, veterans, unaccompanied youth and non-English speakers.

Lastly, the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab will conduct a study on the pilot’s results.

Suburban Cook County is also slated to launch a guaranteed income pilot for its lowest-income residents. Officials running that $42 million program have yet to announce further details, but they’ve said it will debut in the next year.


About the Author: Alice Yin is a reporter for the Tribune‘s metro desk, responsible for covering the ins and outs of Cook County government and the Obama Presidential Center. She is a Medill School of Journalism graduate and was a statehouse reporter for the Associated Press in Michigan before moving back to Chicago for a stint at the Sun-Times.

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