AUSTIN (KXAN) — The people chosen to participate in Austin’s guaranteed income pilot program received their first payments in September, according to a newly-released memo from the city.
The Austin City Council approved $1.1 million to fund the program in May. These taxpayer funds will give $1,000 a month to 85 families or individuals facing extreme financial hardship. Now city leaders are sharing how the effort is progressing six months later. At least 81 of those who received the money participated in a survey, which shed light on their housing and economic circumstances.
The survey results showed slightly more than 30% of the pilot program’s participants have a household income below $10,000, while almost 52% said they made less than $15,000. Additionally, 64.2% said they received a public benefit of some kind, including medical assistance, SNAP benefits and housing support.
More than 30% also said they could not financially meet their basic needs, according to the survey. The results showed, too, that almost 48% shared they were at risk of losing their homes.
The city contracted with UpTogether to develop and administer the guaranteed income project, and the group now plans to work with the research firm Urban Institute to evaluate the program and study what effects the payments have on the participants. The city memo details that study will focus on things like how the money changed people’s food security status as well as their economic mobility or housing choices. Participation in that study, though, is not required, the memo noted.
City leaders are supposed to receive updates about this study into the pilot project at different times during the next two years, including findings about the opportunities and challenges related to the cash payments. By Summer 2024, the memo explains the city will get a “final findings report.”
Previous reporting showed the eligibility criteria for households to qualify for the program. 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