Eligibility & FAQs

Eligibility & FAQs

Who was eligible for the Chicago Resilient Communities pilot?

The City is no longer accepting applications for the Chicago Resilient Communities pilot. As of August 2022, all applicants have been notified about their status and the 5,000 households who were selected in the lottery are enrolled.

The eligibility requirements were:

  • You reside in the City of Chicago AND
  • You are 18 years of age or older AND
  • You have experienced economic hardship related to COVID-19 AND
  • Your household income level falls at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level

Only one application per household was accepted. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

To reach GiveDirectly’s support team, submit a ticket at givedirectly.org/support, call 855-594-4016 on Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm CT, or email help@chicagocashpilot.org.

If you are a participant, a participant portal will be available in the coming weeks where you can check the status of payments and access other information. Participants will be notified when this portal is available.

The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot is an initiative within the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS). The pilot will be administered by GiveDirectly, a nonprofit charitable organization contracted by DFSS. Learn more about GiveDirectly, and the other funded Outreach delegates selected through a competitive RFP process on the Partners page of this website.

Applicants who were confirmed to be eligible were entered into a selection lottery that determined who would receive the $500 monthly payments. Only one application per household was accepted for entry into the lottery.  In total, 5,000 households were randomly selected to receive the funds.   

The lottery was designed to prioritize households living in poverty (at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level) and those living in communities with preexisting economic hardship. This is aligned with the Chicago Recovery Plan's objective of promoting an equitable economic recovery.  

All 5,000 fund recipients, plus a few thousand applicants who are not selected to receive funds, will have the opportunity to participate in an optional research study which will include a small stipend for participation. 

Participants can use the money however they see fit to meet their needs, except:  

  • To buy or support anything that would harm the safety and security of project recipients and/or other community members 
  • For fraud or corruption 
  • For the promotion of any criminal activities 
  • To support any entities or individuals relating to terrorism 

This money is unrestricted and you are not required to report on how you spend the money.  If you are using a prepaid debit card, unless you opt out, your expenditure data will be anonymously aggregated and reported to the City to support understanding about how people generally make use of cash assistance funds. If you are using direct deposit, your spending will not be tracked or reported in aggregate to the City.  

Participants will also have an opportunity to complete optional, quarterly surveys on their experience in the pilot which will include questions about expenditures. These surveys are not required, but they will provide additional insight about the benefits of direct cash in people’s lives.

No, the funds may be considered as qualified disaster relief and do not need to be reported as taxable income. See IRS guidance here.  

In addition, because the funds are administered by GiveDirectly, a nonprofit charitable organization, and total less than $165,000 per year, they are tax exempt under IRS charitable gift guidelines. 

Many programs will exempt the cash assistance received during the pilot, meaning the $500/month will have no effect on your household’s eligibility or benefit levels. These programs include CHA public housing and housing vouchers, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Head Start, Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), various Medicaid programs, and more.

The cash assistance received during the pilot may impact eligibility or reduce benefits for some programs, including Women, Infants and Children (WIC). 

A full list of benefits and assistance programs, and the anticipated impact, is available here (translated into Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Polish, and Filipino.) 

Update: effective June 3, 2022, the Social Security Administration confirmed exemption of the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot from income and resources for SSI. See EM-20014 REV 5 for more information.

If you move residences in the City of Chicago, you should report it to GiveDirectly but it will have no impact on your continued eligibility to receive the assistance. 

If you or your household move out of the City of Chicago, you are obligated to report it to GiveDirectly and you will no longer be eligible to receive the assistance. This is because the federal government requires that the City’s funds are used for local benefit only. 

If your household composition changes, or income changes during the course of the twelve months, you are not obligated to report it and you will continue to be eligible to receive the assistance. 

The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot will administer payments through July 2023, at which point all participating households will have received their 12 monthly payments of $500 per month. The research study will continue for up to another 9 months following the conclusion of the pilot, with findings estimated to be published in late 2024.  

This pilot is funded by the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act and is one of many initiatives in the Chicago Recovery Plan. Learn more about the investments in the Chicago Recovery Plan to support the well-being of people and communities.

The City of Chicago is partnering with the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab on a research study to understand how the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot affects residents’ financial and overall well-being. Results from the study will help the City better understand whether other programs like this can be successful in the future, as well as how existing City programs might be improved to serve communities across Chicago. 

Everyone who applies to the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot is invited to participate in this research study, but your choice to participate in the study does not impact your application or selection for the program. You can choose to stop your participation at any time.  

There are three aspects of the research: surveys, interviews, and linkages to administrative data, like education records or credit scores, that can help the Inclusive Economy Lab understand the impact of this program. You can consent to participate in all or none of the research activities. Participation in the surveys and interviews will be compensated with a small stipend.

No. Universal basic income programs do not have eligibility criteria, are available to every member of a community, and are designed to cover the basic costs of living. This pilot has eligibility criteria and provides $500 per month to 5,000 residents. 

This is a guaranteed income pilot and is budgeted to last 12 months. In guaranteed income programs, a targeted group of people are provided with a re-occurring cash transfer with no restrictions on spending.