Cook County makes cash assistance program permanent: Preckwinkle | Chicago News

Cook County Council Chairman Toni Preckwinkle speaks about the county’s cash assistance program on May 18, 2022. (WTTW News)

Believing that giving cash assistance payments directly to people struggling to make ends meet can help alleviate poverty, Cook County Council chairwoman Toni Preckwinkle said Wednesday she would make permanent a Guaranteed Income Program in Cook County.

The county will launch a test of the program this fall with $41.5 million from the federal COVID-19 relief package signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021, Preckwinkle said. It is the largest program in the country.

The 3,250 residents selected for the program, which will prioritize suburban Cook County residents, will receive monthly payments of $500 for two years. The first checks should be cut by the end of the year, officials said.

A separate program for Chicago residents drew more than 100,000 applications before it closed on May 13. The city’s $31.5 million program will send 5,000 Chicago families $500 a month for 12 months, officials said.

In 2021, Cook County officials used $8 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to send $600 in cash relief payments to 14,000 residents hard hit by the economic disaster triggered by the pandemic. .

“The vast majority of the money was used to cover housing, transportation and medical costs, contrary to the ‘welfare queen’ tropes that have long plagued our country’s safety net narrative. “, said Preckwinkle.

Preckwinkle the results of this pilot project that convinced her that the cash assistance program should be extended and made permanent.

“We’re interested in long-term solutions,” Preckwinkle said.

A lottery will determine which applicants enter the program, officials said.

To be eligible for the cash assistance program, participants must live in Cook County, be over the age of 18, and live in a household that does not earn more than 250% of the federal poverty level, or $69,375. $ for a family of four, officials said.

Participants cannot be selected for both the Chicago program and the Cook County program, officials said.

The University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice and Inclusive Economy Lab will conduct a study of the impacts of the pilot project and residents’ experiences to help officials understand how the cash assistance program worked and how to determine how to make the permanent program.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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