Soon, applications will open in Chicago for the city’s Resilient Communities Monthly Cash Assistance Pilot. A program whereby the city will provide 5,000 low-income residents with $500 per month over a 12-month period, in one of the biggest basic income programs in the US. And at a time when national stimulus checks have all but dried up, no less.
Such programs extend guaranteed payments, generally with no strings attached, to a group of recipients over an extended period of time. The aim is to disprove a maxim about people turning into sort of aimless wards of the state when they’re given what amounts to a handout. And, in fact, to see in what specific ways a gift of free money might make the recipients’ lives better.
Basic income pilot program in Chicago
“The pilot will serve as a demonstration of the effectiveness of cash assistance within a broader portfolio of safety net benefits and services, and of city government’s ability to meet residents where they are and support their self-defined path toward financial security,” Chicago’s official city website explains.
As of the time of this writing, the Chicago basic income program is still in the very early stages. We do, however, know at least a few key facts about what it is and how it will work.
Applicants, for example, will be able to sign up for the program here in April. And participants will be chosen by lottery. Additionally, the plan is part of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $1.2 billion Chicago Recovery Plan. Which itself taps $31.5 million in federal funds from the 2021 American Rescue Plan.
The basic income funds would come with no strings attached for recipients. Meaning, they could use the money however they want. And requirements to participate include the following: Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have experienced economic hardship related to the Covid pandemic, and have a household income at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
Stimulus check replacement
This Chicago effort also comes, as we noted above, at a time when what had been a robust drive at the national level to issue regular stimulus checks has died down.
From July through December last year, the federal government issued a total of six child tax credit stimulus checks. Most Democrats expected that to continue into 2022. What they didn’t expect was for that effort to collapse in the Senate, where Democrats have a razor-thin margin, because of a single Democrat balking.
So, we’re now back to a largely stimulus-free US, at least at the national level. Albeit, with one big caveat. Those child tax credit checks from 2021? There’s also a companion benefit still coming for millions of Americans. That’s because the checks themselves were one-half of the expanded child tax credit. The second half is coming when people file their taxes, in the form of an actual tax credit. And you can read more about that right here.