Texas Residents to Start Receiving $500 a Month Direct Payments

texas residents to start receiving $500 a month direct payments

A stock image of $500 in $100 bills. Some Texas residents will begin receiving $500 per month starting in April.

Nearly 2,000 families in Texas will soon begin receiving $500 per month as part of a new anti-poverty initiative.

Residents of Harris County, which encompasses the majority of Houston, who have been selected for the Uplift Harris guaranteed income program will begin receiving their funds in April, officials have confirmed, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle. Of an estimated 83,000 applicants, 1,928 families have been selected to receive $500 per month for 18 months as part of the scheme.

Uplift Harris is a guaranteed-income pilot program funded by the 2021 federal American Rescue Plan Act to “address economic inequity and reduce poverty,” according to the Harris County website. The pilot has been issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which the program says “magnified many long-standing health and economic inequities in the community.”

Applicants were selected for the pilot as part of a randomized lottery, but still needed to meet certain requirements to enter. Households wishing to take part must have an income less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line and live in one of the following zip codes in the area: 77050, 77093, 77051, 77060, 77028, 77033, 77026, 77081, 77547, and 77091.

According to the Harris County Public Health website, all successful applicants were notified by March 22. All funds administered to families as part of the pilot do not need to be paid back.

The public health service says the program is needed in Harris County as the area has “among the highest rates of economic inequity in the country,” with 16.4 percent of its residents living in poverty. It says the coronavirus pandemic has magnified preexisting problems, and “a small monthly infusion of unconditional cash can make the difference between stability and deep poverty.”

“The huge amount of interest in this program shows how great the need is in Harris County for a program like Uplift Harris, especially among vulnerable communities,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a statement in February.

“Reducing poverty and helping families who are struggling to meet basic needs should not be a political debate. Our community is experiencing poverty at rates higher than other communities in Texas and around the nation, and we as county leaders have a duty to do everything we can to address it. We’ll be looking into how we can fund this program long-term and hopefully help even more families in the future.”

The scheme is not the first of its kind in Texas. In Austin, a guaranteed-income program paid 135 households $1,000 a month from September 2022 to September 2023. “Similar programs across the country have shown that direct cash assistance programs deliver wide-ranging social and financial benefits for participating families and the broader community,” the county website says.

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