The program will begin shortly after the Aug. 29 deadline for applications, and the 150 participants will be selected through a lottery system.
“This guaranteed income program will do so much more than offer $500 per month to 150 residents: it will reimagine, humanize, and strengthen the social safety net; it will also reshape the relationship between people and their government. In our work to advocate for direct cash payments, we have found the City of Evanston eager to move toward progressive policy solutions that meet families’ material needs without over-burdening them,” said Harish Patel, director of the group Economic Security for Illinois.
To qualify, applicants must be either 18-24 years old, over 62 years old, or an “undocumented community member.” Applicants must also live in a household that makes below or at 250% of the poverty line. For one-person households, 250% of the poverty line is $33,975, and for a two-person household, it is $45,775.
The program uses $700,000 of federal funds from the 2021 American Rescue Plan, along with additional funding from the city and Northwestern University, which serves as a partner for the pilot program. Northwestern University contributed $300,000 in “seed funding” for the program last year.
The city says Northwestern University will study the findings from the pilot program and assess its effect on participants.
“Northwestern is committed to fostering innovative solutions to our City’s most pressing challenges, namely inequality and economic insecurity. Guaranteed income programs treat recipients with dignity in determining how best to spend the money,” said Dave Davis, executive director for neighborhood and community relations at Northwestern University.
The pilot program is the latest in a series of attempts across the country to investigate the effectiveness of a basic income, with many using leftover funds from government spending intended for pandemic relief. Various cities, including Annapolis, Maryland, and Ithaca, New York, have explored or tried basic income programs.
Applications for the program can be found on this website.