Chicago City Council passed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago Moves program as well as approved an ordinance amendment that eliminates towing and storage fees assessed for impounded stolen vehicles.
The Chicago Moves program was created in response to the recent spike in gas prices and the need for expedited transportation assistance for City residents. Now approved, Chicago Moves will provide $12.5 million in relief funding for Chicagoans through prepaid gas cards for up to 50,000 drivers and prepaid transit cards for up to 100,000 transit riders.
“The passage of Chicago Moves is a win for all Chicago residents struggling with transportation expenses,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “By assisting Chicago residents with their expenses for gas and transit, this program will enable participants to save their resources for other critical expenses and focus on their own needs and goals. I thank my colleagues in City Council for approving this funding and helping our residents to keep moving.”
Chicagoans now pay an average of 4.5% of their annual income at the pump, compared to 3.1% of their annual income one year ago, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). This 1.4% increase is consistent with state-wide trends, where the cost of gas has similarly risen by approximately $1.45 per gallon over the last year as well as nation-wide trends, where the cost of gas has increased by $1.38 per gallon over the previous year. According to the same findings, Americans are now spending nearly $70 each time they fill up their tanks.
“Surging costs are making it harder for our neighbors to make ends meet. Regardless of what global forces are at play, we are heartened by local efforts to meet the urgent financial needs of the community,” said Director of Economic Security for Illinois Harish I. Patel. “We know that the best form of support—especially when the need is urgent—is direct cash. ESIL fully supports the City of Chicago’s plan to provide prepaid transit and physical prepaid cards to low-income Chicagoans, alongside other policies that invest directly in families, workers, and neighborhoods.” For Chicago drivers, 50,000 prepaid gas cards, each valued at $150, will be distributed to eligible selected applicants. 75% of the prepaid gas cards will be given to those who reside in high mobility hardship community areas. These are areas determined by the length of time residents spend traveling to work, the amount of income spent on transportation, and the number of residents with one or more disabilities. Similar to the prepaid transit cards, the remaining 25% of the prepaid gas cards will be distributed in equal amounts to each ward.
For transit riders, 100,000 pre-paid transit cards, each valued at $50, will be distributed to eligible applicants. 75,000 cards are ear-marked for those living in one of the City’s high mobility hardship community areas. The remaining 25,000 prepaid transit cards will be distributed in equal amounts to every ward.
The City Council also passed the ordinance that changes the charges for a stolen vehicle that had been towed and impounded. Prior to this amendment, the City was required by ordinance to charge towing and storage fees to the vehicle owner when their stolen vehicle was towed and impounded.
“By allowing the Chicago Police Department and the Department of Streets and Sanitation to return stolen vehicles free of charge, we will help ease some of the pain experienced by victims of a carjacking or a stolen vehicle,” said Lightfoot. “The amendment passed by City Council to “Victims of carjackings and today was truly a necessary step to reduce the impact of crime for our residents—helping to ensure they face no barriers in the process of getting their possessions returned to them.”
The Chicago Police Department and the Department of Streets and Sanitation are ready with a new process to release stolen vehicles to their owners in alignment with this proposed amendment. “Victims of carjackings and stolen vehicles should not have to worry about paying for their eventually recovered vehicles,” said Alderman Chris Taliaferro, 29th Ward. “Thanks to Mayor Lightfoot and my fellow City Council members for shepherding this and acknowledging the need for relief after traumatic experiences.”
Chicago residents can apply online at chicago.gov/Chicago-Moves or fill out a paper application at any Chicago Public Library. Applicants can only apply for one of the prepaid gas cards or prepaid transit cards, and applications are limited to one per household.