Cambridge's Guaranteed Income Program Will Expand Next Month

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The City of Cambridge is getting ready to expand a program that gives needy households a monthly guaranteed income.

Rise Up Cambridge began as a pilot program two years ago, in which the City chose 130 low-income families at random and sent them $500 a month for 18 months.

Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui spoke with WBZ NewsRadio Tuesday about the positive effect these payments have had on those families.

"We’ve heard from our recipients that they feel seen," Siddiqui said. "That because of this money that they're spending, they can spend time with their family, they can pay back debt, they can show up."

Starting next month, Rise Up Cambridge will expand to include all Cambridge households with children aged 21 and under, earning at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Those households will receive the monthly $500 payment for 18 months.

The program is being paid for with $22 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Siddiqui told WBZ that the City is looking into ways to continue the program when the ARPA money runs out.

"It will take us looking at how to continue this program locally, how to also look at our federal partners, our state partners," Siddiqui said.

Siddiqui also downplayed the notion that the program is nothing more than a handout or something to lean on to keep from working.

"People are using this money to support their families, to stabilize, to try to get ahead," Siddiqui said. "They’re not quitting their jobs."

WBZ's Nichole Davis (@NicholeDWBZ) reports.

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