Cook County launches guaranteed income program paying $500 a month to mostly suburban residents

Cook County will implement a new pilot program this fall that will provide monthly $500 payments to 3,250 mostly suburban residents for two years, county board Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Wednesday.

The Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot will be funded by $42 million from the American Rescue Plan and would improve the health, safety and quality of life of county residents, Preckwinkle said.

"Historically, both public and private institutions have been unwilling to directly invest in low-income people without significant restrictions attached," Preckwinkle said. "This red tape is in place not because any evidence shows that it is necessary, but rather because our society does not trust that people living in poverty have the character or ability to make good decisions for themselves.

"Cook County is reframing the way we think about government assistance and is proud to be leading the way in the American guaranteed income movement."

County officials already have committed to continuing the program after its two-year pilot run, in the belief that it will add to the research and literature on guaranteed income and shed light on poverty in the suburbs.

"Direct cash policies are key to unlocking our neighbors’ potential," said Harish I. Patel, director of Economic Security for Illinois, which advocates for guaranteed income programs. "We are hopeful this effort will prove how a guaranteed income should be a permanent fixture for every policymaker working to help uplift communities both locally and across the country."

Adult Cook County residents with an annual household income at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Guideline and not in any other guaranteed income programs are eligible. In 2022, the poverty guideline is $13,590 a year for individuals, $18,310 for families of two, $23,030 for families of three, and $27,750 for families of four.

Residents of Chicago and the Cook County suburbs can apply, but the majority of those selected will be from the suburbs. Once the application window closes, participants will be chosen by a lottery. People can register by emailing, and applications are due by 5 p.m. Friday, June 10.

County officials said a major goal of the program is to learn how guaranteed income affects residents and the local economy. Researchers from the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab and the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice will study those impacts.

Anyone wishing to learn more about the pilot program or to sign up for updates can visit

via > Top News

May 18, 2022 at 06:57PM

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