More than 233,000 Cook County residents applied to be part of the nation’s largest test of whether a universal basic income will reduce poverty, Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle said Monday.
The 3,250 people who win the lottery to participate in the two-year program could get the first of 24 $500 monthly payments by the end of December, officials said.
“The overwhelming response from our residents speaks to the need being felt in all our communities at this unique time in history,” Preckwinkle said. “Cook County is proud to be leading in the American guaranteed income movement and we look forward to providing a stable financial foundation for our residents who need help the most.”
The median household income of applicants was $15,000, officials said. The federal government considers the poverty line to be $26,500 for a family of four.
Approximately 61% of applicants told officials they were Black, while 25% said they were Hispanic, officials said. Women filed 70% of applications, officials said.
Approximately 62% of applicants have jobs, and nearly half have sought medical attention at a hospital’s emergency room in the past year, officials said.
An initial lottery will identify 10,000 applicants to verify the information contained in their applications.
Residents who applied are encouraged to respond to texts from 312-598-2180 and emails from [email protected]. All applicants will be notified about whether they have been selected by mid-November, officials said.
To apply for the cash assistance program, participants had to live in Cook County, 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. Participants also could not be enrolled in any other cash assistance program.
Chicago officials are also testing a guaranteed income program by sending $500 to 5,000 households for one year. More than 176,000 Chicagoans applied for that program, which began in July.