A guaranteed income program in Austin, Texas helped address the problem of housing insecurity in the city, according to a new report.
After the Austin City Council launched the measure in 2022, the state capital became the first major city in Texas to use tax dollars to fund “guaranteed income” programs. The guaranteed income program received $1.1 million in taxpayer funding and an additional amount of over $500,000 raised in philanthropic donations for the program.
The program distributed cash to low-income families.
When the program ended in August 2023, a report from the Urban Institute suggested that the program was beneficial for participants as it helped pay for basic needs like housing and food. The Urban Institute reported that participants on average used half of the funds on housing expenses.
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ANDREW YANG SAYS UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME ISN’T A SOCIALIST POLICY
The Urban Institute reviewed the program for 12 months by conducting a survey and interviews, finding that “respondents reported spending most of their pilot cash on housing and said their housing security improved substantially.”
Their report also showed that participants’ employment “remained stable” and that when they reduced their hours, the time off from work was used for taking care of loved ones or training to acquire more skills.
Taniquewa Brewster, a single mother of five, told a local NBC affiliate the guaranteed income supported her when she needed it.
“That money was there right in time because it helped me pay off those bills and buy medication that I would not have been able to afford,” she said.
The program, which was launched as a pilot, issued $1,000 monthly checks to 85 households who were at risk of losing their homes.
The city of Austin explained on its website that the Guaranteed Income programs “act as a springboard for participants to find a way out of poverty to greater economic mobility and housing stability.”
REP. ILHAN OMAR INTRODUCING ‘UBI PILOT PROGRAM TO GET MONEY IN PEOPLE’S POCKETS’
They tout that a “consistent” flow of cash enables people to pay bills and save money.
“We know that if we trust people to make the right decisions for themselves and their families, it leads to better outcomes. It leads to better jobs, increased savings, food security, housing security,” the city said, explaining the program on its website. “The change is measurable, multi-generational and has a community-wide impact.”
The measure reportedly came at a time when Austin’s cost of living skyrocketed.
Houston is set to be the next Texas city to implement some form of a universal income program. However, the programs are facing some resistance from state lawmakers.
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt sent a letter earlier this month to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton requesting that he issue an opinion on whether counties have the authority to enact such a program.
“Would such a policy violate the gift prohibition clause in the Texas Constitution?” Bettencourt asked.
Read the full article here