$500 monthly payments scheduled for Wednesday through Uplift Harris remain in limbo despite judge siding with county

Uplift Harris (Uplift Harris)

HOUSTON – Less than a week after Harris County secured a victory against the Texas Attorney General to help struggling families with financial assistance, recipients are forced to wait in an emotional limbo as a potential legal battle continues between the county and the state.

PREVIOUS: $500 monthly payments to Uplift Harris families back on track, but AG Paxton’s fight to shut it down likely isn’t over

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Last Thursday, a judge heard arguments from Harris County officials on the temporary injunction requested by Ken Paxton to halt $500 a month grants to recipients of the Uplift Harris program. In a lawsuit filed, Paxton called Uplift Harris “unconstitutional” and an “illegal welfare scheme.”

The first of 18 monthly payments are supposed to go out this Wednesday. And despite a judge siding with Harris County, Paxton has filed an appeal. Leading County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who spoke with KPRC 2′s Rilwan Balogun, to feel hesitant to pull the trigger and disperse monies for the Uplift Harris recipients.

“Right now we’re waiting to see what the courts of appeals rule and whether it makes it to the Texas Supreme Court before Wednesday, which is when the funds are supposed to go out,” she said. “The problem is, the Texas Supreme Court runs in partisan primaries and we know that the Republican Primaries have to be very far right to win and so they may be nervous to win and so they may be nervous to rule for us for that reason, so the question is ‘is it wise for us to disperse the dollars knowing that the Supreme Court might say ‘actually we need those dollars back’ so that’ll be the question we revisiting at Commissioner’s Court with our lawyers and I don’t know one way or the other, what’s going to happen.”

Still, Hidalgo is optimistic noting, “We believe we’re right on the law,” but because there is so much uncertainty, she is unable to decide without worrying if there will be unintended consequences. Especially since this political chess match launched by the attorney general came at such an inconvenient time and caught the county completely off guard.

“We’re just as surprised as the recipients,” she admitted. “We were so excited about the program. We thought if the state had a problem with it, they had ample time to fight us on it.”

RELATED: ‘Why the heck does Ken Paxton care?’: Harris County officials respond to Texas AG lawsuit over Uplift Harris program

The politics arguably make no difference to Uplift Harris recipients who were looking forward to this financial assistance. Hidalgo expressed her sympathy for having residents dragged into this fight, noting she will remain transparent throughout the process.

“Their job is not to be aware of the ins and outs of political fighting, [but] they’re having to play this emotional yo-yo,” she said. “That’s why I told the Attorney General, come on by and meet some of these families and tell them ‘I decided a week before or two weeks before you’re supposed to receive these funds, that I’m not going to give them to you anymore.’”

MORE: ‘Take off your political glasses’: NAACP Houston, partners push for full support of Uplift Harris program

All eyes will then be looking toward Wednesday, during Commissioner’s Court, but Hidalgo assured worried residents, “We’re doing everything we can” and “We’ll keep you posted...trust me, we’re doing everything under the sun.”


About the Authors

Historian, educator, writer, expert on "The Simpsons," amateur photographer, essayist, film & tv reviewer and race/religious identity scholar. Joined KPRC 2 in Spring 2024 but has been featured in various online newspapers and in the Journal of South Texas' Fall 2019 issue.

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