UPLIFT program success: 82,500 apply for payments

HOUSTON – The Uplift Harris Guaranteed Income Pilot Program, a transformative initiative offering $500 monthly payments to eligible residents in need, closed its application process on Feb. 2, receiving an overwhelming response of over 82,500 applications.

Among these applications, 57,509 came from the 10 eligible ZIP codes designated for the program. Apart from that, 137 additional applications were received from ACCESS Harris County program participants, who will be considered under the ACCESS Harris County cohort of Uplift Harris.

“The huge amount of interest shows how great the need is in Harris County for a program like Uplift Harris, especially among vulnerable communities,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Reducing poverty and helping families who are struggling to meet basic needs should not be a political debate. When our community is experiencing poverty at rates higher than other communities in Texas and around the nation, 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 Uplift Harris Pilot will ultimately select 1,928 eligible households with an income below 200% of the federal poverty level to receive $500 monthly payments for 18 months. The program uses a two-stage lottery system. In the first stage, approximately 6,000 qualified applicants will be randomly selected to advance to the second stage of the lottery system, which then chooses the final 1,928 participants who will receive the payments.

“The overwhelming response to the Uplift Harris guaranteed income program underscores the urgent and undeniable need in the state of Texas,” said Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “In the wake of unchecked inequality and soaring costs, families are struggling no matter how hard they work or try to stretch every dollar. People want the government to do something about the economic divide, and that’s what Harris County is doing. In a state with vast prosperity, we refuse to be bystanders as 750,000 Harris County residents endure a relentless cycle of poverty.”

The first payments are expected to be distributed in early April. The program seeks to improve economic stability for low-income families, reduce poverty and its associated challenges, and enhance the over all well-being of participants.

“We are excited to move forward with the selection process and to see how this direct cash assistance will soon aid in making strides towards building a more equitable and prosperous future for all Harris County community members. We are thrilled by the overwhelming response as the outpour of interest in the Uplift Harris Guaranteed Income Pilot Program reaffirms the need to invest in communities experiencing high rates of deep poverty,” said Harris County Public Health Executive Director Barbie L. Robinson. “We believe this program will increase housing stability and employment and address other social determinants of health outcomes. This type of support can give people a much-needed sense of financial security, empowering them to become more self-sufficient.”

Below are the application totals per eligible ZIP code for the Uplift Harris Pilot. (The total excludes applications submitted outside the ten priority ZIP codes.)

ZIP Code Applications

77050 –1,115

77093 –7,401

77051 –7,026 7

7 060 –8,116

77028 –6,144

77033 –8,463

77026 –6,483

77081 –5,446

77547 –1,019

77091 –6,296

Total –57,509

Although the Uplift Harris Pilot application was online, onsite assistance was also offered at various locations throughout the application period.

The Uplift Harris Pilot is funded by a $20.5 million federal grant from the American Rescue Plan Act. The program is managed by Harris County Public Health and administered by GiveDirectly, a nonprofit organization with extensive experience implementing similar programs. For more information about the Uplift Harris Pilot, visit Uplift.HarrisCountyTX.org.

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