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Direct cash assistance lifts up families


Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico is a primary support organization for the Success Partnership, which shares a common commitment to uplifting families in the region.

One such effort is the agency’s family prosperity program. In May 2022, Family Prosperity launched an 18-month pilot guaranteed basic income program in Hatch with a disbursed total of $109,600 to single caregivers, and the outcomes were extraordinarily positive. One participant was a mother looking for full-time employment, and the funds from the program helped her start a small business. Another parent was temporarily out of work due to a car accident, but the GBI monthly payments helped them afford rent. One mother could go back to school and balance her education with the support of this program. Another family was able to fund car repairs and vision care for their kids. This program builds upon the resiliency of single-guardian households and hopes to target the long term effects of multi-generational poverty.  

GBI programs give monthly cash payments to participating families, which can boost financial stability, support unplanned expenses, invest in the future, increase parent engagement, and, most importantly, allow families to make spending decisions that will benefit the household the best. Participants in this program also have access to family-focused wraparound services from the project's organizing partners: Families and Youth Innovations Plus (FYI+), Jardin de los Niños and the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico.  

The family prosperity program, the first federally-funded guaranteed basic income initiative in Las Cruces, is centered on investing in families in Las Cruces and the surrounding communities within Doña Ana County. Its mission statement declares its commitment to empowering families in the county to achieve financial stability through direct cash support. Family Prosperity has been active in Hatch since 2022 and is now starting in Las Cruces.   

When people live paycheck to paycheck, there are misconceptions about their ability to make decisions for themselves and the resources they need. This program aims to change that perception by allowing families to choose how the money will be spent. In fact, data from other GBI pilot programs across the nation have shown that families primarily use the money for food, bills, debt, housing and basic needs or household essentials.When parents experience less financial stress, their confidence in decision-making can improve, positively impacting their family.  Improved quality of life for children can look like food and housing security, better access to clothing and hygiene, quality time with guardians and improved health outcomes. 

Meaningful investments in families are a matter of social justice and economic equity. Early evidence shows that programs similar to Family Prosperity are working to stimulate the local economy and help hardworking families. Direct cash support has allowed families to invest in the health and wellness of their own families as well as their communities.    

Mark A. Hohnstreiter is a development officer with the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico.

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