Today, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development and the Family Independence Initiative (FII) announced an additional $7 million in funding to expand and re-open the Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Resident Cash Assistance program to help suburban Cook County residents experiencing financial insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 25,000 people applied for assistance during the initial launch of the Resident Cash Assistance program, with 41% of applicants representing the hospitality, healthcare, and retail industries. The original $2.1 million budget for the program provided direct cash assistance to a little more than 3,000 residents; an additional $2 million was added to expand capacity. Today’s addition of $7 million will allow the County to offer more than 18,000 eligible residents with a one-time $600 cash assistance grant.
"This is the tenth month of a national crisis that has continued to hit residents and businesses particularly hard, namely people who work in the restaurant, retail, entertainment, and arts industries," said President Preckwinkle. "People need stability and providing direct cash assistance is one critical way to contribute to the well-being of our residents. The County will remain collaborative and continue to find ways to support our frontline workers during these challenging times."
Funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Cook County Resident Cash Assistance Program is focused on suburban Cook County residents experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. It will support residents whose income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty level before March 1, 2020.
"The Family Independence Initiative remains dedicated to partnering with Cook County Government to provide much-needed cash to families across suburban Cook County via our UpTogether platform," said Ebony Scott, Partnership Director, Midwest and Rocky Mountain Region. "We are proud to do more and invest more at a time when people are on the brink of experiencing more financial challenges."
The County is working with industry leaders from the Illinois Restaurant Association, Illinois Retail Industry, arts, and a host of community organizations to provide targeted outreach to frontline workers, Latinx, African Americans, and residents from under-resourced communities.
“Restaurants, caterers, and bars are struggling to hang on through the winter, as they are facing indoor dining closures and severe lack of federal support,” said Sam Toia, President & CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association. “Unfortunately, thousands of our team members have been laid off or are currently at risk of losing their jobs. Cook County’s Resident Cash Assistance program is one opportunity for hospitality workers to get immediate financial assistance to help them pay their rent or buy groceries when they need it most. We commend President Preckwinkle and Cook County for their continued partnership and encouragement of innovation between businesses, community groups, government, public health experts, and residents to get through this crisis together.”
“This cash assistance is the right kind of help at the right time for employees hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Tanya Triche Dawood, Vice President and General Counsel, Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “There is so much need and such limited resources. We hope these funds will provide suburban Cook County residents much needed relief at this critical time of year.”
"Our theaters and venues were the first to close and will be the last to open. Our wonderful and talented bartenders, servers, production managers, promotions team, sound engineers, and musicians have been unemployed or underemployed since March,” said Katie Tuten, Illinois National Independent Venue Association. “Nine months without steady income has been devastating to our community. These funds will be used for basic human needs such as rent and food. We are grateful to President Preckwinkle and Cook County Commissioners who have provided this funding that is so desperately needed and gives them a shot of hope at a dark time of the year."
Applications are open to all suburban Cook County residents, available in multiple languages, and can be completed directly from a cell phone.
"Our program was successful in quickly and equitably distributing funds, during the first round, to the communities in most need," said Xochitl Flores, Bureau Chief of Economic Development. "With mitigation in place, the onset of colder temperatures, and the increasing volume of COVID cases, frontline and service workers are likely to experience a decline in pay, reduction of hours, and possible lay-offs. Working on parallel tracks with our partners and community-based organizations, we will continue to roll up our sleeves and spread the word to make sure people are aware and apply."
To qualify for the Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Resident Cash Assistance program, applicants must reside in suburban Cook County. You will need the following documents:
- One form of government-issued identification that includes your current residential address or two alternative forms of identification
- Proof of your COVID-19 hardship due to unpaid leave, care for vulnerable or infected relatives, or loss of wages due to business or school closures.
- Proof of household income meeting eligibility requirements.
- Bank information, including account and routing number if you choose to direct deposit. You can typically find this on a check.
Individuals may choose to receive their funds in several ways: Direct Deposit, CashApp, PayPal, Chime, or pre-paid card, either physical or digital.
The application opens today, December 7, 2020, and closes on December 11 at 11:59 pm CST. For more information and to apply, visit: www.cookcountyil.gov/recovery.