Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed a pilot program that would give $500 monthly payments to 5,000 low-income households. The program would be part of the city’s proposed $16.7 billion plan that utilizes federal relief funds to close ongoing budget gaps.
The mayor pitched the program as a way to help “hard-hit, low income households in need of additional economic stability.” The program would last for a year, bringing the total cost to $31.5 million.
Similar programs have been tested in other areas, including California and New York. The idea for providing a universal basic income is that giving money each month to people in need will help alleviate the stresses of poverty that can make it difficult to find full-time jobs and stay healthy.
The long-term benefits of UBI programs are still unclear, but the short-term benefits seem to be helping, specifically for individuals who suffered major financial setbacks due to the ongoing pandemic. Coupled with rising house costs, many families needed some sort of assistance to keep their heads above water.
“It lessens my bills,” said one New York resident whose ability to work was affected by the pandemic. “People think because you’ve been working so many years, that you make this tremendous amount of money. But no, actually.”
Major cities are the initial investors in UBI programs, but financial experts believe there is opportunity for rural areas to incorporate these programs, too.
“Knowing what we know about barriers to employment, especially in rural areas, we may see more money going toward transportation than we’ve ever seen before in any other experiment,” Stacia West, Center for Guaranteed Income Research co-founder Stacia West, told AP News. “But it remains to be seen.”