3-Month Update on Annual Guaranteed Income Pilot Program

Can residents still apply for this assistance?

Due to the limited number of families supported by this pilot, the City of Austin is not utilizing an open application process to enroll and select families, instead utilizing the expertise and relationships of 9 community partners. These community partners are currently selecting and enrolling participants that meet the eligibility criteria. This approach was identified as a promising practice from the Relief in a State of Emergency (RISE) disbursements, in which the Equity Office, UpTogether and partner organizations were able to distribute over $2,000,000 of assistance within 72 hours, serving a pool of participants that was 77% Women, 59% Hispanic/Latino, 29% Black, 11% White, and with an average household size of 4.

How much money will the residents received?

Residents will receive $1000 per month for 12 months.

How many families are receiving these funds?

This pilot will support 85 participants through City of Austin funding, and 50 through additional philanthropic funding.

Who are the organizations you’re partnering with?

Our partner organizations have already selected and began enrolling eligible clients into the program. The organizations are:

  • Go Austin/Vamos Austin
  • Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas
  • Austin Area Urban League
  • Refugee Services of Texas
  • allgo
  • Kind Clinic
  • Austin Asian Community Health Initiative
  • Saffron Trust
  • A New Entry
  • Communities of Color United

Why did you select these organizations?

These organizations were selected by the Equity Office in partnership with Austin Public Health, the Homelessness Services Office, and Innovation Office. Staff determined that all of these organizations played key roles in addressing the challenges of displacement and homelessness, possessed previous experience in disbursing direct assistance through RISE or other programming, and shared the strengths-based approach that this program and our contractor utilize, which understands the families and individuals served by this pilot will know best how to utilize the assistance

Annual Guaranteed Income Pilot Program FAQs

On May 5, 2022, City Council voted to approve a $1.1 million guaranteed income pilot program with nonprofit partner UpTogether. This pilot is the first of its kind both in Austin and the state of Texas.

The pilot, focused on housing stability, will provide $1,000 per month for 12 months to a total of 85 households facing or at risk of eviction and individuals experiencing homelessness. Each participant will have complete discretion as to how to spend the money.

This pilot program is modeled, in part, after a pilot UpTogether launched in Central Texas last spring with philanthropic funding. Preliminary findings show 100% of families used the funds on their basic needs, including rent, mortgage, groceries, clothes and gas. More than half of participants were able to pay down 75% of their debt with 37% of the participants paying off their debts completely.

The Equity Office is planning to meet with UpTogether in the coming months to discuss next steps, such as: household eligibility, selection process, and best methods to measure final outcomes. We are partnering with the Office of Innovation, Austin Public Health, and Office of Displacement Intervention, as well as community organizations, to keep this process well-informed.

Please sign up for updates here. For FAQ’s, see below:

What is an Annual Guaranteed Income program or AGI?

Annual Guaranteed Income is direct cash assistance from government to households to spend at their discretion. It is an investment into families who are experiencing a financially stressful period in their life. Poverty Law states, “A guaranteed income program provides assistance to families in need quickly, with little bureaucracy, and can fill gaps left by existing social safety net programs. Families know how to spend money in ways that would best help them. Assistance flows in the most efficient way possible—simply by giving people in need cash that they can use to meet their needs.”

Do Guaranteed Income Programs Work?

Guaranteed Income programs act as a springboard for participants to find a way out of poverty to greater economic mobility and housing stability. Consistent unrestricted cash assistance allows people to address their most urgent basic needs.

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 change is measurable, multi-generational and has a community-wide impact.

How do you know this?

We have studied successful models in dozens of communities across the country from Hudson, New York, to Pittsburgh, Jackson, Mississippi, to Stockton and Oakland California. Multiple studies show that households are better able to pay their utility bills and groceries with cash assistance, which then allows them to invest in other aspects of their lives, such as into their careers, savings, and education.

How will the participants be selected/vetting criteria?

The vetting process will prioritize households who have been directly impacted by the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and the rising cost of living in Austin and are at risk of experiencing homelessness and/or displacement.

Why $1,000?

Considering the rapidly growing cost of living in Austin, where average rent is now upwards of $2,245, and no overall raise in Austin residents’ incomes, we believe that $1,000 monthly will allow households to make a partial payment on rent or use it as a consistent support for other household expenses.

What are the specific success metrics we're looking for in the key impact areas?

The Equity Office will work with the proposed partner, UpTogether, to determine key performance indicators and benchmarks. Some of those metrics will be guided by capacity assessments of participants throughout the program including their ability afford basic necessities, to establish savings, caretakers’ ability to support family such as children, people with disabilities, and elders, and ability to earn more or achieve both short- and long-term career and life goals.

How long is the pilot? How many families?

The pilot is for 12 months and for 85 families at $1,000/month. The funds are unrestricted, meaning recipient households can spend the monthly funds at their discretion.

Can I sign up?

Please sign up for updates here. There is no formal application process yet, but we will be sending out updates as they arise.

I need help now. Where can I go?

Please visit our Resources tab for further information.