Direct payments coming to help Evanston residents get by

The City of Evanston and Northwestern University are partnering on a new financial assistance program to provide monthly stipends to those Evanston residents most in need.

The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program will provide $500 a month on a prepaid debit card to 150 households using funds from the city, Northwestern University and the Evanston Community Foundation. Funding includes $700,000 from the American Rescue Plan. The program will last a full year, giving participants an extra $6,000 to spend on whatever is needed.

In order to be eligible for the program, participants must live in Evanston and live in a home that is at or below 250% of the federal poverty line — equal to a gross annual income of $69,375 for a family of four. Applicants must also be an adult from 18-24 years old or 62 years old and above or be an undocumented member of the community.

Applications will be open beginning on Aug. 15 and run through Aug. 29. and are available on the city’s website. 150 applicants will be chosen by lottery.

Northwestern will be using the program as a research tool to explore the impact of guaranteed income and the stories of those benefiting from the program. The program also plans to ensure that participants can remain on other forms of public assistance that they may already be receiving.

“This guaranteed income program will do so much more than offer $500 per month to 150 residents: it will reimagine, humanize, and strengthen the social safety net; it will also reshape the relationship between people and their government,” said Director of Economic Security for Illinois Harish I. Patel in a news release by the city.

Information sessions regarding the program are scheduled for the following days:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 5 to 6 pm, Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St.
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 to 1 p.m., Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave.
  • Saturday, Aug. 8 to 1 p.m., Robert Crown Community Center, 1801 Main St.

“Evanston is proud to join the growing Guaranteed Income movement. These programs provide assistance with no strings attached, giving recipients the ability to spend the funds in the way that makes the most sense for them and their families,” Mayor Daniel Biss said in the news release.

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