Eligibility & FAQs

Eligibility & FAQs

Who is eligible for the Chicago Resilient Communities pilot?

The application period for the Chicago Resilient Communities pilot has closed.

Chicago residents who meet all of the following eligibility requirements are eligible for the pilot:

  • 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 should be submitted. 

The Federal Poverty Level is an income measure used by the government to determine eligibility for programs. It is based on household size - larger households will have higher income cutoffs than smaller households. 

Use the tool below to view the highest eligible income for a given household size.

then the highest eligible household income is  

Please note: City of Chicago elected officials and employees are not eligible to apply or be selected for the pilot. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

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 is 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. 

All applicants were notified of their application status by the first week of June. If you applied, you should have received an update by either email or text message, based on your stated preferred contact method.  

If you are uncertain about the status of your application, visit https://chicagocashpilot.org/.  

To check the status of your application, visit https://chicagocashpilot.org/. All applicants should have received a notification by email or SMS in the first week of June.  

Once the deadline has passed (Friday May 13 at 11:59pm), you cannot update the contents of your application. If you are selected for the pilot, you will have an opportunity to update any information you previously provided prior to enrollment.  

If you submitted incorrect or incomplete documentation, you may be contacted to provide updated information for your application. If your phone number has changed since you submitted your application, please visit givedirectly.org/support or call 855-594-4016 on Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm CT. 

If you are selected for the pilot and you self-attested Chicago residency, identity, and/or income during application, you may be asked to provide additional information or documentation to help GiveDirectly verify your identity, residence, or income before or during enrollment. If we do need additional information from you, GiveDirectly staff will reach out to you by SMS, email, or phone prior to enrollment.

If you are selected, you will receive a notification by email, text or phone by the first week of June with instructions for enrollment. Prior to enrollment, you may be asked to provide additional documentation to verify your eligibility. You will also have the opportunity to participate in free benefits counseling.  

During enrollment you will be provided information about your rights and responsibilities in the pilot, and you will have a chance to select your payment method. More information about each of these topics can be found in the below FAQs. 

Individuals who were selected for the pilot should follow enrollment instructions from GiveDirectly. You may need to submit additional paperwork or set up an in-person appointment to complete enrollment. 

For assistance enrolling, please visit givedirectly.org/support or call 855-594-4016 on Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm CT. 

If you are selected to participate in the pilot, you will have access to information about how this program might affect your benefits and you will have the opportunity to participate in optional benefit counseling.  

If you or a household member is currently participating in a safety net benefit program that could be impacted by participation in this program, you may be required to participate in a short (15 minute) benefits counseling session with a benefits counselor prior to enrolling. Currently those benefits include AABD Medical, Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities (HBWD), and Medicare Savings Program (MSP). In addition to helping you understand if or how your existing benefits will be affected by participating in the pilot, benefits counselors will be available to help you enroll.  

Notifications about pilot enrollment will go to the unique contact information provided by the applicant or application assistant at the time of application. If GiveDirectly is unable to contact the applicant directly, we will be in touch with any individual who was listed as an application assistant to ensure that the applicant is aware that they have been selected and to ensure they have support to complete the enrollment process.  

As a reminder, individuals who have applied on behalf of someone else must have obtained their explicit consent to do so. Once an applicant is enrolled, GiveDirectly’s team may continue to work with you to ensure that participants safely and efficiently receive their funds for the duration of the program.  

If you are selected to participate in the pilot, you will be invited to enroll in early June. If you successfully enroll prior to June 20, you will receive your first payments in June. If you enroll after June 20, you will receive your first payments in July.  

You will be asked to select your preferred method of payment during enrollment. You have the option of selecting a bank transfer (if you have a bank account) or pre-paid reloadable debit card. You can switch payment methods during the course of the pilot as well. 

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.) Note: 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.

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. 

This money is unrestricted and you are not required to report on how you spend the money. Prepaid debit card data will be anonymously aggregated and reported to the City to support the public's understanding about how people generally make use of cash assistance funds. If you select to use a prepaid debit card, you will be able to opt out of reporting your expenditure data. If you select to use direct deposit, your transactions 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 expenditure. These surveys are not required, but they will provide additional insight about the benefits of direct cash in people’s lives.

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. 

Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot participants will receive $500 per month for 12 months. 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 

For household size, you should count yourself, your spouse, and any other family members who depend on you to cover most of their expenses (for example: children, students, or elderly, sick or disabled family members).    

If you are living in a home or apartment with one or more other families who are financially independent, you are all considered separate households. Roommates and tenants should not be counted as part of your household.

Annual household pre-tax income includes all money from jobs, loans, cash benefits like Social Security, disability, retirement or pensions, and unemployment, and gifts totaling more than $16,000 in one year. To estimate, you will need to combine all sources of income in your household. If a minor in your household receives SSI benefits, you should include that in household income. 

If your adult child or relative is your dependent, and you pay for their day-to-day expenses, you may consider them a part of the same household. If your adult child or relative lives in your home but is otherwise financially independent, they are considered a separate household, similar to a roommate. 

Yes, this pilot is open to all residents of Chicago, regardless of your legal immigration status. This means that if you are not a legal resident, or your household is a mixed-status household, and you meet the eligibility criteria above, you are eligible to participate.  The application will not contain questions regarding an individual’s citizenship or immigration status.  

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, COVID-19 related benefits, including cash assistance, will not be used to determine whether or not an individual was or could become a public charge.  

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 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.

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.