Chicago, IL

Chicago guaranteed income program gives $6,000 to some residents

Beth Torres

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced the distribution of government funds designed to give a helping hand to 5,000 Chicago low-income households. The monthly cash distribution comes from the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot (CRCP), a guaranteed income program funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The CRCP will provide $500 monthly cash payments to recipients for a total of $6,000 paid out over a year. These cash payments come with “no strings attached,” meaning the recipients can use the funds however they choose. The goal of the $31.5 million program is to help recipients regain stability and pay for basic needs, such as food, utilities, and medical care.

What were the requirements for this guaranteed income program?

As you can imagine, the interest in the cash assistance program was high—over 176,000 people applied. The city used a lottery to select the final 5,000 recipients.

GiveDirectly is a nonprofit organization contracted by the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) to administer the cash assistance program. The program had several eligibility requirements, including:

  • Participants must be 18 years of age or older
  • Participants must be a resident of the city of Chicago
  • Participants must have a household income at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level
  • Participants must have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic

Who received the $500 a month cash payments?

Now that all recipients have been enrolled, Mayor Lightfoot’s office released demographic information about the participating households. Approximately 60 percent live in poverty, with 36.7 percent living in deep poverty (which is measured as at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty level).

Many of the recipients (approximately 63 percent) are caregivers and 75.6 percent reside in an area experiencing medium to high levels of financial hardship. Approximately 71 percent of recipients identify as women. Just over 68 percent identify as Black or African American and 23.5 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.

Examples of other guaranteed income programs

Many cities and counties across the country are using a combination of federal funds, grants, bonds, and other funding to develop guaranteed income or cash assistance programs. Often these programs focus on helping people who have been impacted by inflation, the pandemic, and the affordable housing shortage.

Here are a few examples of these programs, along with links where you can learn more about them:

One guaranteed income program in Illinois offers select residents an extra $500 a month for one year.

A Santa Clara, California guaranteed income program gives $1,000 a month to help high school students experiencing financial hardship.

Los Angeles has a program called the “BIG LEAP,” which gives some residents $12,000 a year in cash assistance.

Is the government doing enough to help families through the recent tough economic times?

We’d like to hear your thoughts! Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments section. And if you appreciate reading my articles, be sure to follow, like, and share! Thanks for your support!

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