Supporting Cash Assistance to Austin’s Vulnerable Communities

Speak in support of cash transfers to Austin’s most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 crisis. On this week’s City Council agenda, Items 44-47 are designating the remained of the RISE Fund to go to large non-profits, rather than direct cash transfers to families who need the funds most. 

Instead, Communities of Color United for Racial Justice is asking for our help to push the City of Austin to allocate the money left from the resolution to the Equity Office, to do cash transfers INSTEAD of going to the large non-profits. With the help of the Family Independence Initiative, the money will be directed through grassroots organizations with connections to communities. 

  1) Make Phone calls to city council: http://www.austintexas.gov/austin-city-council

  2) Send an email: austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members

Background: 
In early April, the City Council authorized the transfer of $15 million to support Austin’s residents who were struggling in the midst of the COVID pandemic. In the implementation of the distribution, most of the money allocated in the resolution went to large non-profits like Catholic Charities, El Buen Samaritano, the Urban League and Asian Family Support, though it was meant to be for direct cash assistance. The large non-profits are NOT giving out cash assistance or calling people. They are announcing that they have resources and people have to call them and get an appointment and then they help with paying bills, etc. What we are hearing from families is that they call and call and can’t get through.

What smaller, grassroots groups like Communities of Color United, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, GAVA have been doing is QUALITATIVELY different. They proactively called households to inquire about need and worked side by side with people (exhaustively) to get them set up to receive transferred funds. As a result, CCU and MSVW each distributed $100,000 to Black and Brown families in 48 hours! (GAVA distributed even more). It was an amazing coming together of the community with much love, dedication and selflessness.

Feedback from MSVW: “As we contacted folx in English, Spanish, and French and distributed codes, there was a wide range of emotions that were expressed: relief, joy, disbelief, suspicion but overwhelmingly so much gratitude. People are super grateful to be a part of a community that see them and wants to support, empower, and uplift them in this way. For one single mother of six, it took three people talking to her to convince her it was not a scam that this was REAL & that she ABSOLUTELY deserved  it. After phone calls/ messages from multiple people and some time to process, she submitted her application!”