CHICAGO - Friday is the final day Chicago residents can apply for the city's $500 monthly cash assistance program.
The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot program was created with the goal of providing families facing economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic with $500 monthly payments for 12 months to help them stay afloat.
The launch comes as people continue to reel from the pandemic on top of increasing costs of living. About 17% of people in the Chicago metropolitan area live below the poverty line, according to an analysis from the Census Reporter.
A recent report from the Greater Chicago Food Depository found that earlier this year, about 29% of Black households experienced food insecurity compared to 24% of Latino households and 11% of white households.
The city-run program will select 5,000 participants in a lottery to give $500 a month for a year. Residents who faced economic hardship because of the pandemic have until 11:59 p.m., Friday, May 13, to apply at chicago.gov/cashpilot.
Residents can use the money for whatever they want.
Chicago residents must be 18 years or older, and have a total household income at or below 250% of the federal income level. That means for a household of three, the total income must be $55,575 or less. For a single person, it’s $33,975 or less. The city is only accepting one application per household.
Applicants are asked for contact information, a form of identification, proof of residency — such as a utility bill — along with proof of household income — like a tax document or public benefits letter.
Residents can apply regardless of immigration status, and those without a home can list the area or shelter where they stay, officials said.
In February, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the program as a way to help struggling residents.
"Over 200,000 Chicagoans live in extreme poverty. Meaning their income is less than $6,795-a-year — or $13,875-a-year for a family of four. Those are devastating numbers. Imagine that for a moment, and trying to keep a family of four fed, clothed, safe and healthy on roughly $13,800-a-year. It’s virtually impossible," she said.
The city’s Department of Family and Support Services is overseeing the pilot, though a contractor, GiveDirectly, was chosen to conduct the lottery to pick the 5,000 recipients.
Commissioner Brandie Knazze said the agency intends to distribute the first payments by late May to recipients’ pre-paid debit cards or bank accounts.
Across the country, other cities and states in recent years have started similar programs that don’t have stipulations about how participants can use the funds. A study in Stockton, Calif., found that participants of a similar program were able to pay off debt, get full-time jobs and reported lower rates of anxiety and depression after receiving $500 monthly benefits for two years, the Associated Press reported.
To learn more and signup for application process updates, visit chicago.gov/cashpilot.