A program that would give thousands of Chicago residents free gas and public transportation cards won approval by City Council during a council meeting Wednesday.
The program, set forth by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is set to distribute 50,000 pre-loaded gas cards worth $150 each and 100,000 pre-loaded public transit cards worth $50 each via a lottery.
The proposal just inched its way to approval, winning by only three votes, with 26 yes votes and 23 no votes, during Wednesday's meeting which Mayor Lightfoot presided over.
According to NBC Chicago's Mary Ann Ahern, several aldermen during the council meeting called the program a campaign gimmick.
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Last week, a City Council budget committee narrowly brought the program one step closer to reality, with a close 15-12 vote.
According to officials, residents can begin applying for the gas and transit cards Wednesday. However, details on how to apply or where weren't immediately available.
Here's what we know so far.
Here's How the Free Gas Card Program Will Work
The city of Chicago will use a lottery system to distribute 50,000 pre-loaded gas cards worth $150 each and 100,000 pre-loaded public transit cards worth $50 each.
Chicago residents must apply to earn a free gas or public transit card, and applications are limited to one person per household. Only eligible applicants will be entered into the lottery.
To be eligible to receive either card, applicants must:
- Be a resident of Chicago
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a current and valid city sticker with correct mailing information for their vehicle
- Bring in a household income at or below 100% of the Area Median Income
According to Chicago data, the median income for a family of four is $93,200.
Lightfoot also plans to reserve 75% of gas cards for residents of South and West Side neighborhoods defined as “high-mobility hardship."
Cards will be distributed starting in May to waves of 10,000 city residents.
Chicago Businessman Willie Wilson, who has announced he has entered the 2023 race for mayor, last week held a third million dollar gas giveaway, which took place at dozens of gas stations across the city and Chicago suburbs. Wilson recently called Lightfoot's plan a “political stunt.”
As Wednesday, the national average price for a regular gallon of gas is $4.134, according to AAA. In Illinois, the average price for a regular gallon of gas is slightly higher, at $4.394. That's down a bit from a month ago, when Illinois' average gas gallon cost $4.494.