Chicago — Adriana Flores, a single mother of two boys, watches every dollar, and even though she works full-time as an educator, she earns less than $40,000 per year.
Last year, she could only dream of new soccer supplies for her sons.
“We could get by,” Flores told CBS News. “But how horrible is it to live your life just getting by? That’s not enjoying it.”
However, thanks to a new $500 monthly payment she will receive for the next two years, she has been able to do more than just get by.
“I don’t stress as much because I have that little cushion,” Flores said.
The Chicago-area mom is one of more than 3,200 families who are receiving direct payments in the first-ever Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot Program for low-earning households.
“The money is unconditional and unrestricted,” explained Harish I. Patel with the Economic Security Project, a group which advocates for guaranteed income programs.
Cook County’s program is one of 130 similar guaranteed income pilot programs in 32 states and Washington, D.C., which have public and private funding and offer monthly stipends of anywhere from $50 to $1,500, according to data from the Economic Security Project.
“What we have seen is people, especially mothers, are spending money on diapers, food for their kids, sometimes getting that interview so they can have a full-time job, or starting a small business,” Patel said. “That’s actually where all the cash is going.”
Thanks to the extra income, Flores was able to rent a prom tuxedo for her son Isaiah, while her other son Elias now has the right gear for soccer.
“Seeing that joy on their face when I’m like, ‘Oh, you know, I can pay for this, I can pay for that,’ you know, I like it,” Flores said.