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Texas county to launch guaranteed income program in 2024 with COVID relief funds
December 19 2023, 08:00

Eligible citizens of Harris County, Texas, will receive the first payment of a new "guaranteed basic income program" starting in 2024.

The program is funded with $20.5 million from President Biden's American Rescue Plan Act which was passed in 2021 for COVID-19 relief. 

Originally approved in June, the "Uplift Harris" program will issue monthly payments of $500 to 1,928 low-income households in Harris County for 18 months starting in April. Harris County recently released additional details on its website in anticipation of applications starting in January. 

"The goal of the program is to improve participants’ financial and health outcomes, as well as understanding the impacts of direct cash assistance on both individuals and their communities," the site read.


To participate in the program, citizens must be 18 or older with an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level in one of ten "targeted" ZIP codes in Harris County. This would include individuals earning less than $29,160, with the income level rising depending on the household size. Only one person per household will be allowed to take part in the program.

Participants in the program will receive the monthly payments via a bank transfer, or a prepaid "reloadable" debit card to accommodate users without a bank account. The money can be used in any way by the participant so long as it is not used "to buy or support anything that would harm the safety and security of other participants in the Uplift Harris Direct Cash Assistance Pilot and/or other community members," "for the promotion of and/or engagement in any criminal or illegal activities" or "to support any entities or individuals relating to terrorism."

The money will also be considered a "tax-exempt charitable gift" and would not affect any public benefits a participant may already be using.


During the vote on the proposal in June, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo suggested that illegal immigrants could be eligible under the program if the court sees fit.

"Can the undocumented community apply? If the county attorney says they can, they will. If the county attorney says they can’t, they won’t. What I was told is they can," Hidalgo said.

In a statement supporting the proposal, Hidalgo said, "It is uncivilized that we live in a society where people cannot afford basic necessities. As county leaders, we have a duty to employ all the tools that we can to reduce poverty. This pilot program will support the people that work incredibly hard day and night but still need an uplift."

According to the website, the Uplift Harris Direct Cash Assistance Pilot is an initiative of Harris County Public Health and will be administered by GiveDirectly, a nonprofit charitable organization, working alongside its tech partner, AidKit.


Harris County stated that one goal, depending on the availability of more funding, will be "long-term sustainability and gradual expansion."

Fox News Digital reached out to Harris County for a comment but has yet to receive a response.