Chicago economy

Cook County Launches Guaranteed Income Pilot Program; 3,250 residents will receive $500 per month for 2 years

Residents of Cook County will soon be able to apply for a program offering $500 a month, no strings attached, for two years, as county officials try to address poverty and racial inequality.

County officials announced the launch of the program — the Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot — at the Chicago Cultural Center. The program will have room for 3,250 randomly selected residents, regardless of immigration status, for two years, and it will be funded by federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Cook County Council chairwoman Toni Preckwinkle said she sees the need for a guaranteed income program during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve seen low-income communities of color suffer the worst health and economic impacts,” Preckwinkle said. “We thought then and we think now that those disparities were unacceptable.”

Officials have provided few details on the rollout, other than saying they expect to accept applications in the fall, recipients will be chosen in a lottery, and the first payments will reach residents’ pockets. end of the year.

The county, meanwhile, is seeking proposals from organizations and agencies to help administer the program, provide outreach services and assist applicants in person. The county accepts these proposals until June 10.

Surrounded by elected officials and supporters, Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims discusses the Cook County Guaranteed Income pilot program.

Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims believes the program will help residents live better lives.

“It’s not charity, it’s helping out,” Sims said.

The county is partnering with the University of Chicago’s Inclusive Economics Lab and the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice to study the effect of providing this guaranteed income to Cook County residents.

To be eligible for the pilot, a person must live in Cook County and their household income must be below 250% of the federal poverty level.

The county program accepts applicants from Chicago, but they cannot participate in any other guaranteed income program; the city is launching its own similar effort. Most of the entrants – who will be selected in a lottery – are expected to come from suburban Cook County.

The announcement comes days after Chicago stopped accepting applications for its pilot program, funded by the US federal bailout. The city’s resilient communities pilot project will select 5,000 participants, also through a lottery; these individuals will receive $500 per month for one year.

In recent years, other cities and states have introduced similar programs that provide cash to residents with no restrictions on how to spend it. A study of a program in Stockton, Calif., found participants used the funds to pay off debts, get full-time jobs, and reported lower rates of anxiety and depression, The Associated reported. Press.

Michael Tubbs, former mayor of Stockton, Calif., and founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, discusses the Cook County Guaranteed Income Program at the Chicago Cultural Center on May 18, 2022.

Former Stockton, Calif. Mayor Michael Tubbs, founder of Mayors for Guaranteed Income, discusses the Cook County Guaranteed Income pilot program on Wednesday.

Michael Tubbs, the former mayor of Stockton, joined Cook County officials. People participating in his administration’s guaranteed income program were more likely to move into full-time jobs than those who did not receive the cash payments.

“I promise you, this isn’t just some pie-in-the-sky idea,” Tubbs said. “It’s rooted in evidence, in data.”

Although the program is a pilot project, county officials said they would like to make it permanent through the county’s equity fund.

“Make no mistake about it: we are interested in long-term solutions to the glaring problem of income inequality,” Preckwinkle said. “Our promise to Cook County residents is to make the program permanent for years to come.”

Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust.