Chicago considers universal basic income


Jose M. Osorio | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at a press conference following a Chicago City Council meeting at city council chambers in City Hall in Chicago on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. 

The city of Chicago is considering implementing monthly payments to struggling families to cover costs of food, housing or transportation.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is considering these monthly payments as universal income for the people of Chicago. Ameya Pawar, an alderman for the city’s North Side, introduced a resolution in June, which called on the mayor to launch a program that would pay $500 every month to 1,000 families, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Families would receive the money without any conditions.

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Emanuel, who is not seeking a third term, will form a task force that will consider these monthly payments, which will include Pawar. The team will begin meeting shortly and issue a report in a few months. According to the Tribune, Pawar believes that paying people monthly will help combat the large loss of jobs the city has suffered due to automation and offshoring industries.

“Chicago would be the largest city in the country to take this step,” Pawar told the Tribune. “I think the mayor sees this as a chance to lead the way as cities try to grapple with poverty and income inequality at a time the federal government is not addressing those things. This would be a legacy issue [for Emanuel].”

Although Pawar, who is also not seeking another term in his position, introduced a proposal in June, the task force will not use it as the basis for its plan.

The timing of the announcement of the task force has drawn criticism, the Tribune reported. It comes shortly after the mayor declared he would not run for re-election. So while he can take credit for creating the team, his successor will be left with the challenge of implementing the plan.

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