Key Takeaways

  • Affordable housing is the biggest barrier to achieving housing stability.

  • General stability in other aspects of life (job, financial, social networks, goals, etc.) - which members used cash to support - leads to housing stability. Members used the funds to stabilize their overall financial situation by paying for housing, increasing employment, and expanding social networks.

  • Cash is an efficient and equitable form of housing assistance, reducing application barriers and administrative burden while improving inclusivity, especially among traditionally excluded groups.

  • Cash can augment social networks that enable economic mobility and broader goal attainment.

Overview

In March 2021, UpTogether, in partnership with the City of Austin and local philanthropy1, launched a study to understand how UpTogether members demonstrate the impact of our strength-based approach particularly around housing stabilization. The purpose is to uplift learnings to inform how the City of Austin and local philanthropy design and invest in communities experiencing poverty and dealing with housing hardship. 173 members and their households2 (163 in Austin and 10 in Georgetown) received $1,000 per month for a year, from March 2021 to March 2022.

The study is centered on the three principles of the strength-based approach:

  • Community: Recognizing and learning about how families support one another and use their social networks to achieve their goals, including around housing.
  • Capital: Investing $12,000 in 173 families over 12 months ($1,000/month) and understanding and uplifting the impact families create through this investment.
  • Choice: Learning about families’ goals and choices around housing and how they utilize unrestricted investment to achieve these goals.

Members had the opportunity to participate in three surveys over the course of the 12 months and were compensated an additional $50 for each survey for their time and expertise.

This is the third report, a follow up from our second report in December 2021. Of the 173 families (163 in Austin and 10 in Georgetown), 55% participated in the March 2022 survey.

This report discusses the impacts of cash, community, and the strengths-based approach.

Response Rates

Members participated in three surveys between March 2021 and March 2022, with survey fielding happening in March 2021, July 2021, and March 2022.

  • 100% (n = 173) of households participated in the March 2021 survey, 67% (n = 116) in the July 2021 survey, and 55% (n = 95) in March 2022.

  • 43% (n = 75) of households responded to all 3 surveys.

Members

The majority of members who completed the March 2022 survey identify as Black (44%) or Hispanic (26%). Seventy-one percent identify as female and 61% are under 45 years old.

Sixty-seven percent of survey takers have dependents in the household. Among these respondents, 89% have children and 84% have multiple dependents. Twenty-two percent of respondents are caregivers for dependents across multiple generations, taking care of a mix of young children, adults, and aging parents in the same household.

Housing Stability

For members, housing stability is about building the foundations in their day-to-day living that would create opportunities to advance their goals and long-term mobility. Members defined what housing stability meant to them, in their own words: