Through an initiative designed to address income inequality in the area, Harris County, Texas residents can dramatically improve their monthly income.
The Uplift Harris County Cash Assistance Pilot program will provide qualified households in the county with a $500 monthly stipend for a period of 18 months.
According to the county website, the initiative is a component of a trial program offering guaranteed income, which is supported by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and aims to alleviate poverty and economic inequality. The program is a reaction to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has brought attention to and made the community’s already-existing health and economic inequities worse.
A number of states in the United States have tested guaranteed-income ideas through pilot programs in recent years. Each program has a different monthly payment amount. For instance, monthly payments to individuals in Los Angeles and Baltimore can reach $1,000, although participants in other places receive smaller amounts.
Despite its notable prosperity, Harris County has a high level of economic inequality, with 16.4% of its population living in poverty, according to the county website. Inflation in the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic have made these disparities worse.
In response to Newsweek’s request, I emailed Harris County Public Health to solicit comment.
The county website states that there is no obligation to repay any portion of the amount given and that the money is not a loan. They claim that comparable initiatives in other regions have shown that direct cash support programs benefit participating families and the larger community in a number of social and economical ways.
The program requires a number of requirements to be fulfilled in order to be eligible, including income and regional requirements. Applicants can apply to one of two cohorts: one based on their location, and the other through enrollment in the state’s Empowering Self-Sufficiency and Accessing Coordinated Care program. Random selection will be used to choose participants for both cohorts who match the eligibility criteria and are at least 18 years old.
The scheme is similar to the concept of universal basic income, which has been tested in several countries. It entails paying people and families without taking their income into account. As a result, even wealthy people might profit from receiving payments that are unconditional.
An assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences, Fabian Wendt, stated that universal basic income, or UBI, should be viewed as a foundation to be built upon rather than just a safety net.
The author of an article on the university’s website describes the distinction between a universal basic income (UBI) and a safety net. The author claims that a safety net is meant to intervene only when someone is truly in need, which frequently entails having an institution determine whether or not they actually need help. Concerns regarding bureaucracy and paternalism are raised by this procedure. However, the UBI removes the need for such testing and all worries about bureaucracy and paternalism by providing a platform on which everyone can stand.
During the pandemic, the federal government provided Americans with direct relief payments; some of these grants are still being provided today.
Wendt claims that some individuals might believe that money intended for the poor is being misallocated to the wealthy.
Why should a monthly check be sent to all those rich people? He asked. Why adopt UBI if the goal is to combat poverty since the wealthy are by definition not impoverished? It is a legitimate worry, after all. In response, it is said that the wealthy won’t be the ones who gain the most depending on how UBI is financed. In actuality, they will pay more toward the UBI’s funding than they do for their monthly benefits.