According to the 2020 census, nearly 13% of Cook County residents live in poverty. Now, there’s a new guaranteed income pilot 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 residents of Cook County $500 a month for two years. To be eligible, applicants must be Cook County residents age 18 or older and have an income level at or below 250% of the federal poverty level.
The applications are open until Oct. 21 and recipients will be chosen by lottery.
Joseph Lopez, executive director of Spanish Coalition for Housing, says the program is one of the largest in the country and is open to households regardless of immigration status. The application process was designed to be as simple as possible – but it does require internet access.
Spanish Coalition for Housing, one of the county’s outreach partners, will provide assistance with both internet access and the application process.
“The information is very basic — folks will need to put their basic information like an email, full name. A photo is also asked to upload, whether it is a government-issued photo or a selfie,” said Lopez. “There are six key community based organizations spread out throughout the county. We offer, as an organization, bilingual outreach. We’ll offer both informational sessions as well as application assistance to help folks apply directly.”
Lopez said he expects to see results similar to guaranteed income pilot programs elsewhere.
“Those folks know best how to spend this additional income and prior pilots on a smaller scale have proven that out,” Lopez said. “So it’s really helping to stabilize household income, provide some economic mobility for households, and in addition to that, also improve their both economic and financial and wellness overall in the household.”