Chicago Set to Vote on Creating One of the Nation’s Largest Guaranteed Basic Income Programs

A public service message “Stay Home Saves Lives” is displayed against the Chicago skyline in March 2020. / © Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The Chicago City Council is poised to vote this week on what would be one of the nation’s largest basic income programs, giving 5,000 low-income households $500 per month each using federal funding from the pandemic stimulus package enacted this year.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has proposed the more than $31 million program as part of her 2022 budget, which the city council is scheduled to consider on Wednesday. The one-year pilot program, funded by the nearly $2 billion Chicago received from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, is supported by most of city’s 50 aldermen. But it has received pushback from the 20-member Black Caucus, which has urged Lightfoot to redirect the money to violence prevention programs.

Lightfoot has said the pilot program is motivated by her own childhood memories of hardship while growing up in Ohio. “I knew what it felt like to live check to check. When you’re in need, every bit of income helps,” she wrote in a tweet announcing the plan earlier this month.

Basic income programs have been spreading across the country since Stockton, Calif., started providing monthly stipends with no strings attached to 125 of its residents in 2019. Those stipends resulted in more full-time employment and improved mental and emotional well-being among recipients, according to preliminary findings reported earlier this year by researchers who helped design the program.

Michael Tubbs, who implemented the program as then-mayor of Stockton, noted that recipients’ largest expenditure was food, making up at least a third of spending each month, according to the report. “I had no idea so many people in my area were hungry,” Tubbs said.

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SOURCE: MSN, Mark Guarino

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