50 Boston Families Received $583 a Month in Unrestricted Cash. Here’s How it Helped.

Sherene Blake and her husband had trouble paying the bills, even though they were both employed.

“It was very very scary. We applied for public assistance. They turned us down because my income showed we’re above the [income eligibility threshold]. But [my income alone] wasn’t enough. I still could not pay all my bills and still take care of all my children,” she said.

In 2021, Sherene was thrilled to have the opportunity to be one of 50 Boston families in a direct cash pilot led by Camp Harbor View and UpTogether. The families received $583 a month in unconditional cash for two years. 

“With the support of the program, I was able to leave my second job. My husband eventually found a new job, and I was able to spend more time with my family,” she said.

Graphic showing Families receiving direct cash payments had a 43% decrease in psychological distress compared to a 17% increase among families not receiving payments.  Among families receiving direct cash, 45% were able to save for an emergency, compared to 14% of those not receiving payments.  Families receiving direct cash saw a 23% increase in asset building (purchase of a house or car), while other families saw an 11% decline.

A study of the pilot shows remarkable results:

  • Families receiving direct cash payments had a 43% decrease in psychological distress compared to a 17% increase among families not receiving payments.
  • Among families receiving direct cash, 45% were able to save for an emergency, compared to 14% of those not receiving payments.
  • Families receiving direct cash saw a 23% increase in asset building (purchase of a house or car), while other families saw an 11% decline.

In addition, participants had the opportunity to join a Parent Advisory Board and form connections with UpTogether's Elizabeth Lindsey presents at Camp Harbor View event.each other. The board also provided feedback for a potential next phase of the pilot.

On January 18, Camp Harbor View and UpTogether hosted an event to celebrate the findings. It was attended by participants and representatives from numerous community groups and nonprofits. Attendees were excited to learn that “money can buy back time,” meaning people had more time with their families and to enjoy life. 

2024_01_18_Loeb_DCP_Convening-147The Camp Harbor View pilot success story lends strong support to scaling up guaranteed income and other direct cash assistance initiatives through concentrated and sustained government investments and public-private partnerships.

UpTogether’s East Coast Partnership Director Jess Ridge recently testified at a Boston City Council Ways and Means hearing and later appeared on WGBH to discuss Jess at CHVopportunities to directly invest in people right away. She said, “It’s about making a choice. And by implementing guaranteed basic income, you’re also giving choice back to people whose lives have been negatively impacted by policies over time…we can invest in people now.”

“Being a mom is my number one priority, and being part of this pilot program alleviated a lot of stress and allowed me to be the best mom that I could possibly be,” said Sherene.

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