Houston, TX

Houston Launches $20 Million Guaranteed Income Plan to Help Low-Income Families and Migrants

Tom Handy

Houston has some money to spend and it will be targeted toward low-income families as part of a universal basic income program. The new program may also include some migrants who are living in poverty.

The universal basic income program in Houston is also known as the Harris Program. Eligible people could receive up to $500 a month for 18 months. In total up to $20.5 million will be available to provide low-income families as part of the American Rescue Act.

Democrats voted 4-1 to approve the new plan.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo also supports the plan and said the money would go to the 10 poorest neighborhoods. This would also include migrants who live in the Houston area.

The 10 neighborhoods include Forest Acres, Acres Homes, South Park, East Six Jensen, Sunnyside, Northgate, Greater Fifth Ward, Settegast, Gulfton, and Galena Park.

Judge Hidalgo referenced the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which cited guaranteed income as one way to change long-term income and wealth trajectories.

She said:

"The reason it is what is is because this has already been studied at length; now, is it a 100 percent this is the silver bullet for poverty? No. I mean, there is no silver bullet for addressing poverty; there just isn't, but it is one of the things that have shown the most promise.”

The goal of the Harris Program is to help families living 200% below the federal poverty line.

Executive director of Harris County Public Health Barbie Robinson said:

“COVID did not create disparities and inequities in our communities, but it magnified them.”

Last year, Wells Fargo offered a grant for Houston residents looking to buy their first home. The plan is expected to run through 2025.

Do you think this guaranteed income plan is needed to help some families?

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