Preckwinkle announces guaranteed income pilot for suburban Cook County residents

The program will be funded by $42 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds. Chicago is implementing a similar program with $31.5 million in funding.

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at a City Club of Chicago address Wednesday, March 2, 2022.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at a City Club of Chicago address Wednesday.

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Thousands of financially struggling residents across the suburbs will be able to apply to take part in a guaranteed income pilot program that will be funded by $42 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

“I find it quite sensible to give people what they need most when they’re living in poverty: money,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Wednesday during an address to the City Club of Chicago.

She said Cook County’s guaranteed income program is the largest of its kind in the country.

The program is in the early stages of planning and details such as eligibility requirements, payment amounts, how many participants it could accommodate and for how long haven’t been decided.

A spokesman for Preckwinkle said Thursday that applications would be available within the next 12 months.

Preckwinkle hopes to make the program a permanent fixture.

“We’ll structure it to sustainably transition into a permanent program in the years to come,” she said.

The program would serve only suburban residents of Cook County.

Chicago is instituting its own guaranteed income pilot program that will disburse $500 monthly payments to 5,000 participants who will be chosen through a lottery.

The city will launch the lottery for the program in April. Applications can be submitted at chicago.gov/cashpilot.

To be eligible, applicants must live in Chicago; be at least 18 years old; have experienced economic hardship related to COVID-19; and have a household income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. That’s $55,575 for a family of four.

The city’s program is also funded by pandemic relief funds totaling $31.5 million.

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