Chicago’s $31.5 million Guaranteed Income pilot program has launched with just over 5,000 households receiving their first payments, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday.
Most recipients are women, about 7 out of 10, and a majority are black. The median annual income of participating households is $14,000, according to a press release about the program.
Dubbed the Resilient Communities Pilot, recipients were selected by lottery from more than 176,000 applicants earlier this year and receive $500 a month for 12 months.
“Through the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot, we are ensuring that our communities can access financial assistance to meet their most basic needs,” Lightfoot said in the release. “Furthermore, the pilot project reinforces our belief that each of our residents, regardless of income or zip code, deserves the opportunity to support themselves and their families.”
Eligibility included being an adult resident of Chicago, having suffered economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and earning no more than 250% of the federal poverty level.
The city said 71.1% of recipients are women, while 75.6% live in an economically challenged community, 62.5% are caregivers, 9% are homeless or experiencing housing instability and 60 .2% live in poverty, with 36.7% earning less than 50% of federal income. poverty line.
Additionally, 68.3% of recipients are black, 23.5% are Hispanic or Latino, 15.7% are white and 3.4% are Asian, the city said.
The median household size of pilot project participants is two people and the median age is 39 years. More than three-quarters are renters, and the most common COVID-19 impacts they have experienced have been lost wages or chronic unemployment, with more than a third of those experiencing at least one of these problems.
Some have been laid off due to the pandemic, quit their jobs to become caregivers, or suffered medical costs related to COVID-19. The most common form of government assistance that participants receive is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), 58% of which is part of the food stamp program.
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The south and west sides of Chicago have the highest concentration of residents enrolled in the Guaranteed Income Pilot, while the downtown and far northwest neighborhoods had the fewest.
With these initial funds, Chicago has joined the contingent of American cities that have warmed to the concept of guaranteed income. Once considered a pipe dream in mainstream politics, the idea of getting money straight to those in need has gained particular momentum during the coronavirus-fueled recession, when most Americans have seen several series stimulus checks and other temporary extensions of the social safety net.
The idea was also floated before the pandemic, and so far more than 100 U.S. cities have signed up to some kind of cash assistance pilot, according to the Coalition of Mayors for Guaranteed Income, which was founded by the president. former mayor of Stockton, California. Michael Tubbs. Chicago touts its pilot program as one of the largest in the country.