Chicago Resilient Communities Cash Assistance Pilot Program Applications Open to Low-Income Residents

CHICAGO (WLS) — Residents of Chicago can now apply for the city’s new basic income program.

The city estimates that approximately 5,000 low-income households will benefit from the Chicago Resilient Communities pilot program.

“I remain committed to making an equitable recovery from the pandemic to stabilize and ensure the well-being of all residents,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot Project is a way for us to effectively support communities and households that have been hardest hit by the pandemic with dignity, as well as leverage our work to eradicate poverty. I am deeply proud to launch the largest cash assistance program of its kind in the nation as we continue to provide economic relief to residents and strengthen our city.”

The city expects the program to be one of the largest monthly cash assistance programs in the nation, providing eligible families with $500 per month for 12 months to provide additional economic stability. More than 74,000 Chicagoans have applied since Monday morning.

Brandie Knazze heads the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, the agency overseeing this pilot program.

“We’re really excited that people are interested in the program,” Knazze said. “We want to make sure we can help alleviate the financial impacts COVID has had on the family and put money in the hands of people who are hurting.”

To be eligible, residents must be:

-18 years or older
-Have experienced economic hardship due to the pandemic
-Have a family income equal to or less than 250% of the federal poverty level. For a family of three, it’s less than $58,000. For a one-person household, the limit is $33,975 and for two people, it is $45,775.

Applicants who meet the criteria will be entered into a lottery. The city said people living in poverty and communities with pre-existing economic hardship will be prioritized.

2020 census data showed that 28% of black people in Chicago live below the federal poverty level, the highest of any racial demographic group in the city. Only 9% of white Chicagoans live below the poverty line, the lowest of any group. The YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is responsible for promoting the program to people who need cash assistance.

“We realize some people have a digital divide, so part of that app assistance is actually walking them through the app over the phone,” CEO Nicole Robinson said.

The University of Chicago’s Inclusive Economics Lab will conduct research on this pilot program throughout the process.

“The city wants to understand what benefits this program has had for people in the program as well as their families and communities,” said general manager Carmelo Barbaro.

The nonprofit pilot program administrator, GiveDirectly, will accept applications between 9 a.m. Monday, April 25 and 11:59 p.m. Friday, May 13.

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