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Chicago Launches New Basic Income Program: How to Apply and Earn $500 Monthly

Applications are now open for a new City program that offers $500 a month to low-income families. It is designed to help Chicago families most affected by the pandemic. CBS.

Photo: Shutterstock

The city's so-called "Chicago Resilient Communities" pilot program will offer monthly payments of $500 to approximately 5000 low-income families for one year.

The City Council approved a $31,5 million Basic Income Guaranteed Program as part of Lightfoot's $2022 billion 16,7 budget plan. It is funded by nearly $2 billion in federal COVID aid funding for the city.

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Families and Support Commissioner Brandi Knazze said the program is really needed.

“If you think about pre-COVID, 44% of working Chicagoans couldn’t meet their basic needs, which means they couldn’t afford things like rent, clothes, utilities, food,” Knazze said.

The city advertises it as one of the largest monthly cash aid programs in the country, but you must qualify to apply.

To be eligible for the program, residents must have lived in Chicago for at least one year, be 18 years of age or older, experience economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have household incomes below $57 for a family of three.

Knazze said direct payments to those in need are a more efficient method of helping them freely use the money to meet their specific needs.

“We have seen other studies done in 2020 and 2021 that have shown that when you put money into a family's household, a number of positive things happen. Some studies have shown that children's mental health has improved and child poverty rates have declined. Household unemployment has dropped,” Knazze said.
The programs hope to reach the homeless, undocumented residents, veterans, and low-income families.

The city selected GiveDirectly, an international non-profit organization, and Denver-based technology platform AidKit to administer the program. YWCA Chicago, Life Change Center, Phalanx Family Services, Pui Tak Center, Spanish Housing Coalition, and United African Organization are conducting outreach efforts to encourage eligible residents to participate in the program.

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Program leaders said more than 61 applications had already been submitted in the first few hours of the process.

The program will accept applications until 23:59 May 13 for Once the application process is complete, a lottery will be held to determine which eligible applicants will receive a monthly payout of $500.

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