Today, the Inclusive Economy Lab released its ‘First Look’ at the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot (CRCP), a guaranteed income program launched by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Department of Family and Support Services Commissioner Brandie Knazze in April 2022. This $31.5 million program was designed to improve the financial stability, health, and wellbeing of Chicago residents living in poverty.
The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot is one of the largest monthly cash assistance programs in the nation and supports 5,000 low-income households with $500 monthly for one year. The pilot was open to all Chicago residents who are at least 18 years old, reside in a household with an income less than 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and experienced hardship due to COVID-19. Priority was given to applicants living in poverty and in communities experiencing pre-existing economic hardship.
At the request of the City of Chicago, the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab is conducting a mixed methods evaluation to examine the impacts of the pilot on residents’ experiences. Results from the study will help the City understand the efficacy of cash assistance programs and determine best practices for future programs. This initial report by the Inclusive Economy Lab describes who applied to the CRCP, what their stated needs, goals, and priorities were prior to the pilot starting, and their self-reported physical and mental health. Also interspersed throughout the report are applicants’ experiences from qualitative interviews conducted last summer.
“This latest data underscores how critical it is to address poverty as a root cause of so many other challenges our city and residents face,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “The stress of not being able to pay bills or of being able to provide for one's family takes a heavy toll. To alleviate this burden, my administration continues to fund innovative pilots like monthly cash assistance, which gives our residents extra cash in their pockets to support themselves and their families. I look forward to reviewing the findings from future reports about the effect of monthly cash assistance on our residents’ wellbeing and remain committed to eliminating the impacts of poverty in Chicago once and for all.”
“DFSS saw first-hand how COVID-19 exacerbated the challenges that vulnerable populations face, and how the pandemic disproportionately impacted communities of color,” said Commissioner Brandie Knazze. “The CRCP was designed to build a more equitable recovery, and our partnership with IEL will help us better understand the needs of Chicago residents and build more effective supports for the future.”
The study population includes 2,613 participants out of the total 5,000 who were randomly selected to receive the monthly $500 cash payments and a control group of 3,624 applicants who applied for and are eligible for the program but were not assigned by the lottery to receive funds. The CRCP application contained optional questions about participating in research activities, and applicants’ responses to these questions did not affect their likelihood of being selected for the pilot.
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This story was first published by the Harris School of Public Policy.