AUSTIN, Texas — Austinite Taniquewa Brewster found a crucial financial lifeline, and the mother of five is sharing the news so her community finds similar solid ground.
“It is important, and every dollar does help. It helps families to stay afloat,” Brewster said. “We didn’t go through that period of ‘maybe my children aren’t going to eat or maybe I can’t afford the rent.' That extra income gave me that time,” Brewster said.
For the past year, the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program, spearheaded by nonprofit group UpTogether and the City of Austin, provided $1,000 in monthly support to dozens of Central Texas families in need. Ivanna Neri, senior director of partnerships for the organization, believes the assistance goes a long way in many underserved communities.
“It’s a real call to action for the government and philanthropies to start thinking about these direct investments,” Neri said. “The impacts that it has as people get to be more financially stable but also see improvements in education, financial and mental health, health as a whole.”
The kickstarter has gone so well, Austin City Council has allocated $1.3 million in its new budget for a second round of family stabilization grants in the coming months. According to the United Way, one in five families qualify as low income in Austin. Council member Vanessa Fuentes of District 2 says this budget amendment is a necessity.
“We are in an affordability crisis. We hear often from families that are priced out and are no longer able to live in this city,” Fuentes said. “To have this program to help Austinites that need it the most, we are ensuring the stability and prosperity of our families.”
The fresh start allowed Brewster to get into a leasing agent program, so she can help other underserved families settle and find assistance living on the East side. It’s a responsibility she takes to heart and shares her knowledge of how the city can give back to some of its residents.
“I’d like for those families to do the things I was able to do, or even more help them alleviate the stress of living in a community that’s really expensive,” Brewster said.