City of Austin to become first in Texas to try guaranteed income pilot program

Lana Gibson-Alexander is a mom of four and a grandma of six. She said with her monthly expenses, ends were not always met. Despite her working, she still needed help.

"What I was looking for was not a handout, but a hand-up," she said.

When she was faced with an eviction, her apartment manager told her about the nonprofit, "Up Together."

"The help I received from them was mind-blowing and life changing. I was able to get a newer, more reliable care for my job," said Gibson-Alexander.

That same organization is now partnering up with the city of Austin. Item 21 on the council agenda called for a pilot guaranteed income program. It passed unanimously on the dais with council members Pool and Kelly absent.

"This pilot program will help 85 families at risk of eviction, homelessness by allocation $1,000 every month for one year," said Vanessa Fuentes, Austin City Council, District Two.

The program will cost nearly $1.2 million. Some residents were not happy to hear about it.

"The city of Austin is not a test tube for conducting social experiments with taxpayer dollars based on personal ideologies," said Richard Smith, Austin resident.

"Though $1 million is a lot of money, we are talking about a general budget fund of $1.2 billion that we are taking $1 million from," said Paula Rojas, Communities of Color United for Racial Justice.

Council member Mackenzie Kelly said she would have voted ‘no’ if present. She sent this statement:

"I do not believe that the proposed guaranteed income pilot is the solution to Austin's affordability problem. As an Austin City Council member, I want our community to have a better quality of life, and we need to focus on finding permanent solutions to make the city more affordable for everyone."

The city manager will provide an update on the results of the study after the year goes by. The city will then look into possibly expanding the program to others.

The Up Together organization will be getting their cut of 10 percent for being the administrator for this program.