Today, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced the formation of an advisory group consisting of city officials, Chicago City Council members and community members to advise on relaunching the city’s guaranteed income pilot program, which will provide Chicagoans in need with a $500 monthly stipend for a year.  

The city’s first basic income pilot plan was launched as the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot under Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2022. More than 170,000 people applied for the program, the city selected 5,000 Chicagoans to receive the monthly payment. The program lasted through 2023 and it’s unclear why the program didn’t continue.  

Johnson is relaunching that same program under a new name—the Chicago Empowerment Fund. This fund will also use federal funds provided to the city of Chicago under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which President Joe Biden (D) signed into law in 2021. Chicago received roughly $1.9 billion from ARPA and the federal government to aid in pandemic response and recovery efforts under Lightfoot. 

“When I said I would ensure the city uses these federal recovery dollars to invest in people, this guaranteed income program is exactly what I meant,” Johnson said in a written statement. “This program delivers dollars directly into the hands of Chicagoans who need it the most and will provide much-needed relief to help families and communities meet financial obligations and responsibilities.” 

The advisory group’s responsibilities include providing guidance on eligibility and outreach strategies for the guaranteed income pilot. According to a written release, more than three dozen people will be invited to join the advisory group, and the first meeting is expected to be held later this month. 

This week, the Johnson administration also revealed its plans to spend the remaining COVID-19 federal relief dollars and outlined what existing community initiatives will see a boost in funding.  

Here’s a snapshot of programs that will see additional investments: 

  • The Youth Opportunities Program will receive an increase in funding from $54 million to $66 million.
  • The Rapid Rehousing Program’s funding will rise from $27.3 million to $32 million
  • The Small Business Support Program’s budget is set to increase from $20 million to $33 million
  • The Community Violence Intervention Program will see its funding increase from $16.1 million to $23 million
  • The Emergency Fund for Gender-Based Violence Survivors is set to receive a boost in funding from $5 million to $10 million
  • The Artist Relief and Works Fund’s funding is set to increase from $10 million to $12 million
  • The Mental Health Equity Initiative will receive a funding increase from $18.2 million to $20 million

The city has roughly $234 million left to spend. Under federal guidelines, the city must decide where these funds will be allocated by Dec. 31, 2024, and all relief funds must be spent by Dec. 31, 2026. Funds not spent by the deadline must be returned to the federal government.

Here’s the link to sign up for more information and updates about the Chicago Empowerment Fund. 

is a multimedia reporter for The TRiiBE.