More than 176,000 Chicagoans applied to be part of the city’s study that will test whether a universal basic income could reduce poverty in the city, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday.
Most of those who win the lottery to participate in the program could get the first of 12 $500 monthly payments at the end of June, officials said.
Everyone who applied to the program will be notified about their status after Memorial Day, officials said.
More than half of those applications came in the first 24 hours after city officials launched the program, officials said. The $31.5 million program has enough funding to send just 5,000 Chicago families $500 per month for 12 months, officials said.
“The fact that so many people from all over our city applied to this pilot underscores the need for us to innovate and reimagine how we uplift people and their communities,” Lightfoot said.
At least 300 residents of each of Chicago’s 50 wards applied for the program, officials said.
Approximately 64% of applicants live below the poverty line, which is $26,500 for a family of four. An additional 40% of applicants live in households that earn half that amount, officials said.
Approximately 68% of applicants told officials they were Black or African American, while 24% of applicants told officials they were Latino or Hispanic, officials said.
An initial lottery will identify 13,000 applicants who are living in poverty and those living in communities with high levels of economic hardship. A final lottery will determine which 5,000 people are invited to enroll in the monthly cash assistance program, officials said.
To apply for the cash assistance program, participants had to live in Chicago, be older than 18, have experienced “hardship to due to COVID-19” and live in a household that earns no more than 250% of the federal poverty level, or $69,375 for a family of four, officials announced.
Lightfoot included funds for the cash assistance program in her 2022 budget proposal, which was released in September, five months after Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward) urged the City Council to launch an identical program.