Over 200 civic groups and community leaders call on Austin City Council to ensure $7.5 million goes to direct cash assistance for vulnerable Austinites

April 9, 2020

Leaders say effort is critical to ensuring communities of color and immigrant communities are part of recovery

Austin, TX —  On Wednesday, more than 200 civil rights, immigration, criminal justice reform, and civic organizations and community leaders called on Austin City Council to fully fund a direct cash assistance program to provide relief for Austinites suffering due to the economic pains caused by COVID-19.  A vote on the proposed measure, Items 81 and 87, is expected later today during Austin City Council’s scheduled meeting.  

The letter calls on city officials to ensure that Austin’s Black, Brown, and Asian communities will not be left out of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts. It calls on city officials to allocate $7.5 million for cash assistance in one-time cash transfers to families experiencing financial hardship brought by COVID-19 and to include no restrictions on how direct cash assistance should be spent or managed by the recipients shall be placed.

Furthermore, the letter calls on the City of Austin to include anyone who is experiencing hardship is eligible for the one-time cash transfer regardless of their citizenship status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and age.  It asks that the money allocated for direct cash assistance is awarded through an organization like Family Independence Initiative which has committed to ensuring 100% of the funds go directly to the most vulnerable families in Travis County by absorbing overhead or any other operational cost.

Last month, community organizations called on Austin City Council to commit to bold solutions to not only stabilize our community but to ensure Austin’s Black and Brown communities will not be left out of recovery efforts.


“There are more than 100,000 undocumented people in the Austin metro area who are currently living with an immense weight on their chest not knowing whether they will be able to keep their family fed, sheltered, or safe in the next month because of COVID-19’s effect on their jobs,” said Alicia Torres, member of ICE Fuera de Austin, a community member group of Grassroots Leadership, “If there was ever a moment for the city of Austin to let the undocumented community know that they too are part of Austin’s community at large and will also be protected, that time is now.” 

At this time, my husband is currently detained at the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, TX, the only way for us to communicate with him is by keeping my phone bill paid,” said Miriam Jaimes, member of ICE Fuera de Austin. “Without a job right now, making those payments is incredibly difficult. If Austin City Council passes this proposal, people like me will benefit greatly and will allow us to stay in contact with our loved ones."




Maria Reza, mreza@grassrootsleadership.org