A Texas county plans to give low-income residents in the Houston area $500 a month as part of a guaranteed-income plan

A highway sign saying "Welcome to Texas" with a Texas state flag.
People are moving to Texas from California, Florida, and New York.Paul Souders
  • Harris County in Texas, which includes Houston, plans to give low-income residents $500 a month.

  • The county is using $20.5 million in COVID-19 relief to fund the program.

  • Harris County says similar programs have shown "wide-ranging" social and financial benefits.

A county in Texas is planning to give residents monthly payments to combat economic inequity, a plan it says has worked in other states.

"Uplift Harris" is a guaranteed monthly income program to provide eligible households in Harris County $500 a month for up to 18 months, the county's website says.

Harris County, which includes Houston, has one of the highest economic-inequity rates. According to government data, over 16% of its residents live below the poverty line.

"For many Harris County households, a small monthly infusion of unconditional cash can make the difference between stability and deep poverty," the county says on its website.

The county says similar programs around the US have "shown that direct cash-assistance programs deliver wide-ranging social and financial benefits for participating families and the broader community."

In 2022, Denver gave people monthly payments ranging from $50 a month to $1,000 a month. One study from the University of Denver's Center for Housing and Homelessness Research found that the program dramatically reduced visible homelessness.

Researchers said when the initiative in Denver began, about 6% of the people in the $1,000-a-month group said they were sleeping outside, but that number fell to zero in just six months.

Another program in two parts of California offered about 100 homeless people $750 a month for a year. After six months, recipients reported being less likely to be unhoused and said they were able to afford most of their basic needs.

Other places in the US are similarly experimenting with giving people no-strings-attached cash. Baltimore, for instance, is giving young parents $1,000 a month.

In Harris County, officials are using more than $20 million of federal COVID-19 relief — part of the American Rescue Plan — to fund the Uplift Harris project.

Two groups of people in Harris County will be eligible for the payments — those who live in areas with the highest poverty rates and those who receive aid under Access, another county program that supports vulnerable populations.

More than 2,000 households will be eligible to receive payments from the program when applications open in January, according to Houston Public Media.

Correction: December 25, 2023 — An earlier version of this story incorrectly described programs like the one planned in Harris County. Because such programs are targeted based on things like income, they would not normally be described as universal-basic-income programs.

Read the original article on Business Insider