Austin outlines who might qualify for $1,000 guaranteed income pilot

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The City of Austin’s Office of Equity provided updates Monday on who may be eligible for the city’s proposed Guaranteed Income pilot program, which would give 85 families or individuals eligible $1,000 per month over a one-year period.

On Thursday, the Austin City Council is expected to vote on a contract with community program group UpTogether to administer the funds, with $1.18 million approved for the program in Austin’s 2021-22 fiscal year budget.

The proposed program aims to meet the needs of residents struggling with financial difficulties who, as a result, experience housing insecurities. In Austin’s 2023 strategic plan, homelessness and displacement were marked as “the city’s top 10 indicators of success,” according to Monday’s memo.

Possible criteria for eligible participants in the Guaranteed Income Pilot could include:

  • Households subject to an eviction file
  • Those with a history of missing utility bill payments
  • People experiencing homelessness who have already been identified for supportive housing

Under the proposed pilot, the monthly funds of $1,000 would be unlimited, with no designated use associated with them. Similar programs conducted across the country, including in Stockton, Calif., found that the majority of participating residents used the funds to pay for food, store purchases and utilities.

“Because Guaranteed Income programs provide unrestricted funds, recipients can spend on necessities such as rent, food, transportation and utilities, making decisions based on their specific needs to help them. stabilize and stay put,” Austin’s chief equity officer said. Brion Oaks said in the memo.

The city has identified the Urban Institute as an evaluator for the proposed pilot project, which would include a two-part analysis to assess the effectiveness of Austin’s guaranteed income program, if approved.

The first component would be a qualitative analysis to determine program effectiveness and potential changes in policy and practice, based on interviews with participants and other stakeholders. The second component, a quantitative analysis, would measure the outcomes of participants versus non-participants to help determine program impacts.

These metrics include:

  • Financial stability, such as the ability to cover a $400 emergency and pay bills on time
  • Health and well-being based on stress levels, access and use of preventive care, or food security
  • Changes in employment, such as number of jobs held by a participant, changes in income, or participation in workforce development and education programs
  • Use of funds, to determine how the money is used

“These unrestricted funds do not represent a ‘gift,’ but rather an essential investment in families and individuals to improve their economic stability, mental and physical health, social capital, and displacement prevention,” Oaks said. “The investment provided by a guaranteed income helps to ensure that households facing housing and economic insecurity have the resources and ability to build a foundation from which they can access higher paying jobs, to increased savings and the ability to live life to the fullest.”