Chicago’s Guaranteed Income Pilot Prepares to Take Flight in 2022 | Latino voices | Chicago News
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s adoption of Budget 2022 on Wednesday sealed the deal on Chicago’s first experiment with a guaranteed basic income for low-income residents. In his remarks after the budget was passed, Lightfoot said the money is intended to help working families stay afloat as the city continues to recover from a pandemic.
“Having constant extra income for a while can make the difference for the working poor who live on the brink of financial ruin,” Lightfoot said. “That’s why $ 35 million of the $ 157 million we are investing in family support programs will fund the country’s largest pilot program, providing $ 500 per month to 5,000 families with cash assistance for lift them out of poverty. “
Similar guaranteed income programs have been tested in smaller towns in recent years, including Gary, Indiana and Stockton, California. Los Angeles also recently announced its own Basic Income pilot for 3,000 households.
Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th arrondissement) spearheaded an effort to start a basic income earlier this year. His committee presented an ordinance in April.
“The way we looked at, what we learned from the hearings, is that in Stockton, Calif., These types of programs have really uplifted families and frankly allowed some families, the head of the family, to find a better job, ”Villegas said.
Ald. Villegas says details are still being worked out for the city’s program as to who will be eligible. The ordinance his committee promulgated in April set out the eligibility requirements it also recommends for the city’s program.
Among the requirements:
• be a Chicago resident enrolled in City Colleges or with a dependent: (a) who is enrolled in Chicago Public Schools or City Colleges or (b) who is not yet the minimum age to attend Chicago Public Schools;
• have suffered a COVID-19 impact at the time of the request;
• have an income equal to or less than 300% of the federal poverty guidelines; and
• not be employees or elected officials of the City of Chicago or the State of Illinois.
The Estrada Metropolitan Family Services organization serves over 100,000 people, 92% of whom earn less than $ 35,000 per year, which is considered a poverty line for a family of six. He says the COVID financial crisis has hit low-income households the hardest, especially black and Latino households.
“The need is great in the Latino community, certainly in other communities as well… Latinos have been disproportionately affected most in terms of job loss,” Estrada said.
Villegas relies on his own education in Chicago to underpin his support for guaranteed income programs.
“My dad passed away when I was 8 and my mom had to raise two boys in Lathrop homes… and my mom worked and she was able to get a program called Social Security Survivor Death Benefit,” who gave him an allowance of $ 800. one month until we turn 18, ”Villegas said. “It allowed him to work with dignity. This allowed her to pay for child care. It allowed her to make sure we had food and clothes, but it also gave us… the ability for us to move out and try to get to a safer neighborhood. This safety net was therefore enormous.
Estrada says that while $ 500 may not seem like much to some households, it can allow those who are struggling financially to stabilize their lives.
“Let’s say you’re on the poverty line, right? You are a family of four, you are at $ 26,500. You have a hard time in this city. You have a hard time paying the rent and the bills, ”Estrada said. “But let’s say we get there, we figure out how to do it with this small amount of money, but then your car breaks down and where are you going to get that money?” This guaranteed income will allow you to pay this repair bill.
He adds that offering this money in the form of cash, rather than directing it to specific uses, means families can decide how best to use it for their particular situations. It also means that beneficiaries can reallocate time spent seeking help on an ad hoc basis to improve their situation in the long run.
“People have to queue for food. People have to queue to apply for rent assistance. They have to line up to ask for other types of assistance like utilities here, ”he said. “Now it’s guaranteed and you’re giving them back their time and dignity. “