Cash In Pockets

$500 A Month Of Basic Income Will Go To These Low-Income Families

Cook County, Illinois, is providing low-income residents with $500 per month to be used towards anything they see fit.

Originally Published: 
Family with child and shopping cart buying food at grocery store.

A new guaranteed income pilot program is set to provide thousands of low-income residents with a set amount of money each month in Cook County, Illinois. It’s the largest publicly funded basic income pilot in the country. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is this new basic income pilot program?

According to CBS News, Cook County, Illinois, is providing low-income residents with $500 per month for anything they see fit in a new pilot program called Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot.

CBS News notes it’s the “largest publicly funded basic income pilot in the US,” and it will allocate $42 million to 3,250 residents. The funds come from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Act, which allocated $1 billion to the county.

Who is eligible for the program?

The 3,250 residents who qualify for the program have a household income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level, and they’ve been there for at least two years. More than a third of residents of the county will be eligible for the program.

“That means a single resident making less than $33,975 per year would qualify,” CBS News reports. “A four-person family with a household income under $69,375 would be eligible.”

How do I apply for the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot?

Applications are open for people who live in the Cook County area and qualify under the eligibility points. People are asked to download the application form and submit the documents to apply.

Applying for the program, even with all the eligibility points being met, doesn’t guarantee acceptance into the program.

“All proposals will be evaluated through a competitive process,” the details on the pilot’s website read. “Each eligible applicant will be evaluated on the strengths of their application, responsiveness to the selection criteria, as well as in the context of the larger goals of the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Program.”

The first payment for the pilot program is set to be disbursed in December, either via direct deposit or prepaid debit cards.

Is basic income coming to the United States?

Programs that focus on guaranteed income have risen in popularity both in the U.S. and around the globe with lots of success. Pilot programs in cities across the country, usually piloted by the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income program, including a similar pilot in Stockton, California, have shown that guaranteed income helps families who need it the most, and the money is going toward basic needs.

When former Stockton, California mayor Michael Tubbs spoke to Fatherly about the city’s pilot program, he simply said of the results of the study: “So much of the findings from the basic income work were people talking about how they were able to parent.”

Other studies have found that recipients of basic income are less stressed and anxious, better able to hold stable jobs, better able to find better-paying jobs and pursue professional advancement, and have more time to spend with their friends and family outside of work. Another larger study of 6,000 basic income recipients in more than a dozen cities found similarly promising results.

Perhaps the biggest basic income-esque cash program ever, the Child Tax Credit, was a monthly cash payment program to working parents in the United States that ran early in the pandemic and lifted millions of children out of poverty, slashed food insecurity, and helped parents weather the pandemic. That credit has expired, and there are no serious policy proposals to renew it, despite the fact that four million children have fallen right back into poverty as a result of the program ending.

For full details on the Cook County, Illinois program, including how to apply, visit the Cook County Promise Guarantee Income Pilot website.

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