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Austin taxpayers will fund 'guaranteed income' program

The financial assistance is meant to keep low income families from becoming homeless.

AUSTIN, Texas — The city of Austin will become the first in Texas to offer “guaranteed income” to some of the city’s low income families.

The year-long pilot program will send $1,000 checks each month to 85 families at risk of losing their homes. The goal is to help them before they become homeless.

“At the end of the day, the public is spending a lot of money right now when people are in tents on our streets,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said on Inside Texas Politics.

Adler says they’re still working out the details about how the program will work, including who exactly will receive the checks. There will be no rules, though, on how the money must be spent.

And while a couple of other Texas cities have experimented with similar programs in the past, Austin is thought to be the first program fully funded by taxpayers.

Watch the segment below:

Some critics say public funds can’t be gifted to private individuals, which is prohibited by the Texas Constitution.

Adler argues that the government has long supported similar programs and payments, and he points to the Child Tax Credit as an example.  

“You can take a look at any government program that exists and say that it’s a gift. When you provide them an after-school program, is that a gift to the person,” asked the Mayor. “You could say that about any government assistance program, and they’re upheld.”

Adler says the group that will run the program will also establish criteria to measure success. 

It’s his understanding there will likely be two groups in the initial program: one group that receives the funds and another group of families that receive no support. Officials will compare those groups over the course of a year.