Austin, TX— Earlier this afternoon, the Austin City Council unanimously voted in favor of Items 81 and 87, locally known as the RISE resolution. The resolution allocates $15 million for direct assistance to people facing financial hardship. Of the $15 million, $7.5 million will be available in the form of direct cash assistance to struggling Austinites.
This victory is much-needed for Austin undocumented workers, mixed-status families, those who work in the cash economy, independent contractors, and college students who were left out of federal relief efforts. With many losing their jobs overnight due to social distancing practices and Austin’s stay at home order, direct cash assistance will allow individuals to have agency on how the money will be spent.
Prior to the vote, more than than 200 civil rights, immigration, criminal justice reform, and civic organizations and community leaders sent a letter to Austin City Council urging passage of direct cash assistance. The ample public commentary before the vote was a testament to the overwhelming need for this type of relief that currently exists in Austin.
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.
Claudia Muñoz, acting co-executive director for Grassroots Leadership: “We are pleased that Austin City Council has chosen to invest in our communities that are hurting due to this horrifying pandemic, including many of our members who lost their income and worked hard to see this resolution come to fruition. City officials will now decide on the best method for disbursement. During this time of much turmoil and uncertainty, I am proud of my city for leading the way with this bold relief effort.”
Alicia Torres, member of ICE Out of Austin: “Austin City Council has done the right thing. By voting in favor of the RISE resolution, Austin has ensured that some of its most vulnerable residents will not be left out of the COVID-19 recovery efforts. The people most impacted by this pandemic testified in support of the RISE resolution, and it’s a great feeling knowing we were heard.”
Maria L, member of ICE Out of Austin: “It was time for a bold solution. My family and I have been going through some really difficult times. This assistance will help us get back a little bit of stability and security as we continue to cope during these really hard times.”
David Johnson, member of Texas Advocates for Justice: "I am humbled and inspired by the power of a community united. This is the kind of change we can achieve by looking not only at our individual experiences of injustice but recognizing that they are all just individual examples of the great injustice that harms us all."
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Maria Reza, firstname.lastname@example.org