Harris County launches basic income pilot program for low-income residents

Houston, Texas –¬†Harris County is on the brink of initiating a significant financial assistance program aimed at supporting its low-income residents. Named the Uplift Harris program, this pilot basic income initiative has garnered substantial interest, with approximately 83,000 applicants hoping to be among the chosen participants.

Supporting Struggling Families

Officials have confirmed that 1,928 recipients will be selected to receive $500 monthly payments for a duration of 18 months, starting from April. To be eligible, applicants must reside within Harris County’s designated “high-poverty ZIP codes” or be part of the county’s Accessing Coordinated Care and Empowering Self Sufficiency program, ensuring support reaches those most in need. Specifically, participants must live at or below 200% of the federal poverty line, targeting aid to individuals and families facing significant financial challenges.

Judge Lina Hidalgo emphasized the urgency and necessity of addressing poverty within the community, stating, “Reducing poverty and helping families who are struggling to meet basic needs should not be a political debate.” Harris County’s initiative reflects a broader commitment to alleviating financial pressures on its residents, acknowledging the area’s higher-than-average poverty rates compared to other regions in Texas and across the United States.

The Uplift Harris program is funded through a $20.5 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021. This funding underscores the program’s immediate goals while also laying the groundwork for potential long-term sustainability and expansion. Judge Hidalgo shared her optimism about the program’s future, highlighting ongoing efforts to secure lasting funding solutions to extend and possibly enhance the support provided to families.

Approved by the Harris County Commissioners Court in June 2023, the Uplift Harris program joins a series of basic guaranteed income experiments across various jurisdictions. These initiatives aim to explore the impacts of direct financial assistance on improving living standards and offering a stepping stone towards greater economic stability for low-income families.

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