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More than 176,000 Chicago households apply for city's cash assistance program

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than 176,000 Chicago households applied for the city's guaranteed basic income pilot program, which will begin sending out $500 monthly payments to roughly 5,000 low-income families in late June.

"The fact that so many people from all over our city applied to this pilot underscores the need for us to innovate and reimagine how we uplift people and their communities," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. "Putting cash directly into the hands of people who need it most is one of the most efficient and effective ways for us to support residents working hard to regain economic stability." 

According to the mayor's office, the city received at least 300 applications from each of Chicago's 50 wards.

The $31.5 million cash assistance program is part of the city's COVID recovery plan, meant to help families hit hardest during the pandemic.

To qualify for the program, residents must have lived in Chicago for at least one year, be 18 years old or older, have experienced economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have a household income below 250% of the federal poverty level. That's $57,575 for a family of three, according to the mayor's office.

According to the city, 64% of the applicants for the cash assistance program live below 100% of the federal poverty line, and 40% live in deep poverty, or below 50% of the federal poverty line.

Approximately 68% of the applicants identified as Black, 24% were Latino, 15% were White, and 3% were Asian.

The city accepted applications for the cash assistance from April 25 through May 13, and will now hold a lottery to determine which qualifying applicants will get $500 monthly payments for one year, starting in late June.

The city said the first phase of the selection process will create an initial lottery pool of approximately 13,000 people, prioritized by households living in poverty, and those living in communities with existing economic hardship. Those 13,000 households will then be placed in a final selection lottery, and will be invited to participate in a research study.

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