Austin City Council postpones guaranteed $1,000 monthly payment pilot program

When it comes to a guaranteed income for certain Austin families, city council kicked the can further down the line to the dismay of some residents.

"There is no reason to delay this for legal reasons," said Monica Guzman, policy director at GAVA Austin.

They were set to vote on the item Thursday, which if approved, would launch a pilot program giving 85 selected low-income families a $1,000 monthly payment for one year.

"I'm interested to see how providing cash benefits to a group of low-income families, what impact does that have in their lives?" said Chito Vela, Austin City Council, District Four.

Vela backs the payments, but still needs some more information before approving.

"It's a good program, I want to implement it, but let's see what exactly the details are, in terms of what income levels are to qualify, in terms of what are the asset levels," he said.

The allocated budget for the plan would be $1.18 million. With inflation and housing costs on the rise, many welcome the idea. But council member Mackenzie Kelly
says there might be other ways to pay for it.

"I am publicly requesting a postponement, so we can define what this program will be. What we want to do is make sure there is a clear purpose with the use of this money, because it is taxpayer money," she said.

Kelly believes nonprofits should be the answer, not the government.

"I want to help those people, but the core question I have is, is this is a service better served by a non-governmental partner or nonprofit agency instead of utilizing taxpayer dollars?" said Kelly.

The council will discuss the item in an executive session as well, before putting it on the May 5 agenda.

"We have the data, we have the track records, the metrics are not hard to set and clarify. People need help now," said Guzman at Thursday’s meeting.