Cook County guaranteed income program gives $12,000 to select residents

Beth Torres

Government officials from Cook County, Illinois just announced a guaranteed income program that will give $12,000 to select residents. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot program will assist in bringing economic stability and independence to thousands of Cook County residents.

The program will give the “no strings attached” money to 3,250 low- and moderate-income residents. Recipients will receive $500 a month for two years for a total of $12,000. The money comes from the federal government’s economic stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The program will cost $42 million, making it the largest guaranteed income program in the nation.

What can recipients spend the money on?

According to the program’s frequently asked questions page:

“Participants can use the money however they see fit to meet their needs, except to buy or support anything that would harm the safety and security of other participants in the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot and/or other community members. Such activities will lead to removal from the pilot.”

The program includes a voluntary research element. The University of Chicago will conduct research to analyze how unconditional cash payments impact the lives of the participants. The University will share their findings with the Cook County government, which will use the data when making decisions regarding future guaranteed income programs.

This video from Fox 32 Chicago provides more details about the Promise program:

What are the eligibility requirements for this program?

Preckwinkle estimates that approximately 36 percent of residents from Cook County will meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the program. The government is encouraging anyone who meets the requirements to apply for the program.

Requirements include:

  • Applicant must be a Cook County resident.
  • Applicant must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Applicant’s household income must be at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • Neither the applicant nor anybody in the applicant's household can receive money from another guaranteed income program.

For a complete list of requirements (and to determine if your household income meets the eligibility amount), please go to the Cook County Promise website.

Be aware that program administrators anticipate the interest in the Promise Guaranteed Income Program will be great. They believe many more residents will apply than will be accepted into the program.

For that reason, the program will use a lottery to randomly select the recipients from the pool of eligible applicants. Program administrators anticipate payments will start going out to recipients in Winter 2022.

How do you apply for the Cook County guaranteed income program?

You can apply for the Cook County guaranteed income program by visiting

The application period starts October 6, 2022. The deadline to apply is October 21, 2022, at 11:59 PM CT.

Other guaranteed income programs that might interest you

The Cook County Promise program is just one of many that local governments around the country are implementing to help their low-income residents. Here are a few that I’ve recently reported on:

What do you think about Cook County’s guaranteed income program?

Leave us your feedback in the comments section. And if you appreciate this content, please like, and share with others. Please follow to receive new articles about income programs and affordable housing. Thanks so much for your support!

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