During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Takiyah Franklin continued to work as a phlebotomist even as she worried about the possibility of transmitting COVID-19 to her own children.
“I couldn’t take off,” she said. “I had to work.”
Franklin, 46, of Oak Park, is among thousands applying for the Cook County Promise guaranteed income pilot program, which will provide 3,250 residents with $500 a month for two years with no strings attached.
Franklin said she would like to use the extra income to complete the community college classes she is taking to transition into a new career while allowing the single mom to spend more time with her 3- and 7-year-old sons. . She quit her job as a phlebotomist and works part-time as a home health aide.
“I think that plays a big role — parents being home making sure the kids have a home-cooked meal, making sure we read to them, spending that quality time with your kids,” Franklin said. . “That’s the important thing because right now the things that are going on, a lot of kids are not getting love.”
She and her two sons were among nearly two dozen people at Quinn Center of St. Eulalia Parish in suburban Maywood who recently got help filling out applications. But their chances of being selected via a lottery could be slim.
Cook County received 184,000 applications Monday, according to county officials. The pilot, which is funded through the US Federal Bailout Act, is accepting applications online until 11:59 p.m. Friday.
A majority – 72% – of people who applied Monday identified as female, and 64% listed their race as black. About 24% of applicants identified as Hispanic and an additional 19% as white, according to Cook County officials.
Half of those who applied said they had been to the emergency room in the past year, county officials said. About 28% of claimants have delayed some form of medical care due to finances and about 22% do not have health insurance.
To apply, individuals must be 18 years of age or older and reside in Cook County for the duration of the program. Immigrants, including those who are undocumented, are eligible for the program, depending on the county.
An individual’s household income must be at or below 250% of the federal poverty level, which means $33,975 per year for a single person, according to Cook County. For a family of four, the household income must be $69,375 or less.
The online application will ask participants for an email or mobile number to reach them, although people can also provide contact details for a relative, friend or community organization instead. Applicants will also need to upload a government-issued ID card that includes their photo or a selfie.
Applicants can also – although they are not initially required to – upload documents to prove their residency and annual income. Selected entrants may also provide these documents after the lottery, depending on the county.
Kristen K. Mighty, executive director of the Quinn Center in St. Eulalia, and Romiesha Tucker of Housing Forward are hosting another application clinic while trying to counter misinformation about the program. Some people thought that everyone who applied would receive $500, although recipients were selected in a lottery.
The number of people online may illustrate the anxiety people are feeling about the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic and inflation, Mighty said. The parish’s weekly pantry has seen an increase in demand.
“People are in a rush to be the first person in line because they’re afraid so many people need so much help that it’s going to run out,” Mighty said.
George Hicks, 70, of Austin, was among those who received help applying for the pilot. Hicks, who works part-time in retail, said he would like to use the $500 a month to pay his bills and for car maintenance.
Hicks said he wanted to try his luck in the lottery, although he knows the odds of being selected might be slim.
“I would just go day to day,” Hicks said of what he would do if not selected.
Craig Armstrong, 57, from Broadview, moved into his own flat in July after being homeless for years, he said. He would like to use the monthly allowance to furnish his house, buy basic necessities like clothes, and he wants to become a truck driver. For now, he is working to improve his health while receiving Social Security disability benefits.
“Sleeping outside destroys the human body – especially in the cold,” Armstrong said. “And now I’m trying to, well, I’m coming back.”
He said he felt “good” about his chances and liked the idea of a lottery.
“There’s one thing politicians can’t do – they can’t fix it,” Armstrong said.
In the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, workers from Rush University Medical Center helped Luz Maria Corcoles and others fill out applications in the basement of St. Paul’s Catholic Church.
Corcoles, 74, said she would like to be selected because she is worried about how she will pay her property taxes and make repairs to her home in Pilsen. She and her husband live on a fixed income from Social Security benefits. An adult grandson recently moved in with them after his daughter died, she said.
“I have my windows which, with the cold coming, I try to figure out how to cover them so that the cold air does not enter,” Corcoles said in Spanish. “I can’t buy new windows; they are expensive and I cannot afford them. I have to find a way to make things better.