AUSTIN (KXAN) — Struggling families or individuals could start receiving payments from the City of Austin’s guaranteed income pilot program as soon as September, according to a Monday city memo.

Austin City Council approved the pilot program in early May with an original plan to give $1,000 a month to 85 families or individuals, but the memo said it can now be expanded to 135 families, thanks to additional funding from St. David’s Foundation.

Timeline

The memo gave an initial timeline of the rollout process for the pilot, saying UpTogether, the organization the city is working with on the pilot program, expects to wrap up onboarding with partner organizations early this month. Then, participants will be chosen and enrolled in the program during the rest of the month. Currently, the first payment is scheduled to be distributed next month.

The plan is for households to be chosen by community organizations who have relationships with those who qualify for the pilot program, according to the memo. UpTogether is currently working to recruit and solidify relationships with partner organization to help with that process.

Eligibility

Several city departments, including Austin Public Health, the Homeless Strategy Office and the Equity Office, came together to refine eligibility criteria for households to qualify for the program, the memo said. Participants in the pilot must:

  • Live within the City of Austin and Travis County limits
  • Have a household income that is at or below 60% of the Area Median Family Income ($66,180 for a household of four)
  • Have not gotten funding through UpTogether’s previous 12-month pilot from March 2021 to March 2022
  • Meet at least one of the following:
    • Moving from homelessness toward permanent housing
    • Have a filed eviction
    • Household has been behind on rent for two or more months over the past year
    • Household has received a verbal or written notice of intent to evict or a threat to vacate by landlord or property manager at any time within the past three months due to nonpayment of rent
  • Be at least 18 years of age

Past research

The memo said UpTogether, which aims to invest in families, ran its own, similar pilot program from March 2021 to March 2022. One hundred seventy-three households got $1,000 per month as part of UpTogether’s trial run. The organization found:

  • All participants used the money on basic needs like rent, mortgage, utilities, transportation and food.
  • 48% of households were able to reduce debt.
  • 39% upped their savings.
  • Employment rate amongst the participants went up from 56% to 67%, with 73% of members increasing their annual income during the span of the program.

Another update on the city’s pilot program will be provided in three months, or six months from when the program was approved, and finally when the pilot program is completed.