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Chicago’s new basic income program, called the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot, is set to launch soon with applications opening in April.

Last October, Chicago’s City Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the city’s “most progressive budget in City Hall’s history,” according to Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

“This program is controversial for some. But for me, it just makes plain sense,” Lightfoot said to The Chicago Sun-Times.

The basic income program will support 5,000 low-income households with a $500 monthly stipend, to be used by the families how they see fit.

According to city officials, the pilot program will require participants to apply for a lottery to participate.

chicago mayor lori lightfoot universal basic income
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Bloomberg)

City used Covid Relief funds to launch basic income program

The basic income pilot, largely funded by the $2 billion Chicago received from Biden’s America Rescue Plan, is a $31.5 million cash assistance plan that was proposed by Mayor Lightfoot in 2021. The pilot is part of the mayor’s $16.7 billion budget passed in October.

“Today’s announcement is all about supporting our residents who are still struggling to make ends meet,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “Our innovative, monthly cash assistance program will help to stabilize and ensure the wellbeing of residents that have been struggling both before and during the pandemic.”

To be eligible for the basic income pilot program, applicants must:

  • Live in the city of Chicago.
  • Be 18 years old or older.
  • Have experienced economic hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Have a household income at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level ($57,575 for a household of three).

The city is seeking a non-profit organization to run the program and conduct outreach for enrollment in the guaranteed income pilot. City officials also will partner with the University of Chicago’s Inclusive Economy Lab to evaluate the impact of the program.

“I am dedicated to continuing to bring relief to our city’s hardest-hit communities and look forward to rolling out this new initiative as soon as possible alongside our newest fines and fees reforms and other Chicago Recovery Plan priorities,” Lightfoot said.

The city will begin accepting applications for the program in April at More information is available now at the website, including the option to sign up for an alert when applications are available.

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...