Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a program that would give low-income families a $500 monthly payment in an effort to promote an “equitable recovery” from the hardships of COVID-19.
In a press release Wednesday, Lightfoot, along with Chicago Department of Family and Support Services Commissioner Brandie Knazze, announced the $31.5 million pilot program, called the “Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot,” which would give $500 monthly payments to 5,000 Chicago families for one year “to provide additional economic stability.”
The program is one of a number of initiatives within the city of Chicago’s $1.2 billion “Chicago Recovery Plan,” which was created “to promote safe and thriving communities and an equitable economic recovery from COVID-19.”
“I remain committed to making an equitable recovery from the pandemic to stabilize and ensure the wellbeing of all residents,” Lightfoot said in the announcement. “The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot is a way for us to efficiently support the communities and households that were hardest hit by the pandemic with dignity as well as build on our work to eradicate poverty. I’m deeply proud to launch the largest cash assistance program of its kind in the country as we continue to provide economic relief to residents and strengthen our city.”
The program will be run as a lottery system. The city will accept applications from April 25 until May 13 through a nonprofit administrator called GiveDirectly. The lottery will take place later in May.
An applicant for the lottery must be a resident of Chicago of at least 18 years old, must have a household income level at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level, and “have experienced economic hardship related to COVID-19.”
Only one applicant from each household can apply. Applicants who are confirmed eligible will be entered into the lottery, but the announcement said the lottery was designed to prioritize individuals who live at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level and “communities with preexisting economic hardship to align with the equitable recovery goal of the Chicago Recovery Plan.”
“Cash assistance allows individuals and families the flexibility to address the needs most critical to them,” Knazze added in the announcement. “The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot puts resources directly into the hands of those who need it most and allows them to thrive their own terms.”
Last week, Lightfoot also announced that the city would begin distributing gas and transit cards to combat soaring gas prices in poor neighborhoods. The Daily Wire reported:
Last Thursday, Lightfoot’s office issued a press release that announced a new program called “Chicago Moves,” which is a government-backed initiative that will provide “$12.5 million in relief funding for disadvantaged Chicagoans.”
“The program will be comprised of $7.5 million earmarked for $150 physical prepaid cards eligible for redemption at local Chicago gas stations as well as $5 million earmarked for $50 prepaid cards eligible for use on public transit,” the press release added.
“The last two years have been exceedingly difficult for many of our residents, in particular our most vulnerable populations. Through the pandemic, we have collectively faced tragedy, and many among us have faced accompanying economic hardship. Now, as inflation steadily rises and the cost of gas continues to soar, our disadvantaged residents are carrying a significant financial burden,” Lightfoot said in a statement.
Chicago’s move came after a federal proposal to distribute gas cards was shot down for several reasons, including criticisms that it would be ineffective and expensive.