According to the 2020 census, nearly 13% of Cook County residents live in poverty. Now there is a new guaranteed income pilot project to help some of them.
The guaranteed income pilot program, known as Cook County Promise began accepting applications this week. Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, the program will pay 3,250 Cook County residents $500 a month for two years. To be eligible, applicants must be Cook County residents 18 years of age or older and have an income level at or below 250% of the federal poverty level.
Nominations are open until October 21 and recipients will be chosen by lottery.
Joseph Lopez, CEO of The Spanish Housing Coalition says the scheme is one of the largest in the country and is open to households regardless of their immigration status. The application process has been designed to be as easy as possible, but it does require internet access.
The Spanish Housing Coalition, one of the county’s outreach partners, will provide assistance with internet access and the application process.
“The information is very basic – people will need to put in their basic information like email, full name. It is also asked to upload a photo, whether it is a government issued photo or a photo. ‘a selfie,” Lopez said. “There are six key community organizations located throughout the county. We, as an organization, offer bilingual outreach. We will offer both information sessions and assistance with application to help people apply directly.”
Lopez said he expects to see similar results to guaranteed income pilot programs elsewhere.
“These people know better how to spend that extra income and previous smaller-scale pilots have proven that,” Lopez said. “So it really helps to stabilize household income, provide some economic mobility to households and, on top of that, also improve their economic and financial well-being and overall well-being within the household.”