Yessenia Cervantes-Vázquez, a lead community health worker with Rush Community Health Center who is helping residents apply for the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot, speaks to Fernando Acevedo in the basement of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, April 30, 2022. Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

More than 176,000 Chicago residents applied for a pilot program that will provide individuals with a base monthly income of $500 for a year. Only 5,000 individuals will be selected through a lottery process, meaning that a person has about a 2% chance of being selected.

Applicants of the Resilient Communities Pilot are expected to get an update about their status in the program next week after the Memorial Day holiday weekend, city officials announced Tuesday.

GiveDirectly, the agency picked by the city to administer the program, will narrow the pool of candidates to 13,000 through a lottery process, according to the news release. Those applications will be closely reviewed to see if they fit the eligibility criteria before a final lottery will pick the 5,000 participants.

Recipients will receive the first $500 benefit through a pre-paid debit card or their bank accounts by the end of June, though some might not receive it until July if they need more help enrolling, according to the city. City officials had previously said the payments could have gone out by late May.

“Putting cash directly into the hands of people who need it most is one of the most efficient and effective ways for us to support residents working hard to regain economic stability,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a prepared statement.

As many as 790,000 Chicago residents could have been eligible for the program, according to a WBEZ analysis of 2020 census microdata prepared by the University of Minnesota. Most residents applied for the program in the first week the program accepted applications.

Some of the hopeful applicants said they would use the money to pay essential bills like rent. “It would, for a year, ensure me having a roof over my head where I wouldn’t have to worry about having that,” said Tommie Hannah, one of the thousands who applied for the program. “Because a person in my position, you can’t even think about going back to work or focusing on going back to school or anything like that if where you live is still in question.” Hannah has been living in a shelter, and he would like to use the monthly benefit to help secure his own apartment. He was among the 9% of individuals who applied for the program and are experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness, according to statistics released by the city.

In the end, 70% of the applicants identified as women, and a majority are also a caregiver or a parent of a child, according to the news release. The majority 64% of applicants are Black, 24% are Latino, 15% are white and 3% are Asian, according to a news release from city officials.

Chicago residents who aren’t selected for the program might have another chance to receive a monthly $500 benefit. Cook County officials are in the early stages of launching a similar program, though that program will select 3,250 residents who will receive $500 for two years.

The county is expected to open the application process in the fall. The eligibility requirements are similar to Chicago’s program, requiring applicants to have a household income that is below 250% of the federal poverty level. However, applicants for the county’s program can’t already participate in other guaranteed income programs.

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

© © Copyright 2022 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved.


This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.

Rating: 1.0/5. From 4 votes.
Please wait...