CHICAGO — Cook County officials have announced a guaranteed income program that will give some families $500 a month.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot on Wednesday. The program is the nation’s largest publicly funded guaranteed income initiative at $42 million. It will send monthly payments of $500 to 3,250 Cook County residents for two years. Applications to participate in the pilot will open this fall. 

“Historically, both public and private institutions have been unwilling to directly invest in low-income people without significant restrictions attached,” Preckwinkle said in a release. “This red tape is in place not because any evidence shows that it is necessary, but rather because our society does not trust that people living in poverty have the character or ability to make good decisions for themselves.”

She said the county is reframing the way people think about government assistance.

Participants must be adults living in Cook County, be income-eligible (household income at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Guideline) and not be participants in other guaranteed income programs for the 24-month duration of the Cook County pilot. In other words, they can not participate in both the Cook County program and the Chicago guaranteed income program.

Participants from both the city and the suburbs are eligible to apply. However, the majority of those selected will be suburban residents. Participants will be selected via a lottery process.

To learn more about the program, and to sign up for updates, visit the website.

The deadline for the  Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot was on May 13. Five thousand families will be chosen by lottery. Each family selected will get $500 a month for a year. For more information on the Chicago program, visit

Last year, California approved the country’s first state-funded guaranteed income plan.