Some residents may be about to find out. A new proposal unveiled by a mayoral task force late last week would provide 1,000 struggling Chicagoans with $1,000 per month — no strings attached.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the pilot program, which would cost up to $12 million per year and be funded by the city and philanthropic contributions, was recommended as a way to help individuals and families, along with senior citizens, who have a hard time making ends meet.
“Guaranteed income can have powerful effects: significant reductions in poverty; ability to cover an unexpected emergency; improve school attendance; an increase in savings and improvements to health and well-being," the report states, according to the Sun-Times. "These are goals that every Chicagoan can get behind.”
Universal basic income has been touted by tech executives like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a way to deal with the potentially massive job losses resulting from automation and AI in the coming decades. A number of Democrats, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and several 2020 candidates, have also voiced support for a universal basic income of some type.
Retiring Alderman Ameya Pawar, who chairs the task force, told the Sun-Times that a lot of public policies aimed at poor people are rooted in discrimination and shame.
“There is this belief in the United States that, if you help poor people, they’ll get addicted to help, when what we know is, if you help poor people and give them cash, they make the same decisions people with money make,” Pawar told the Chicago newspaper.