Following early reports of success out of the City of Chelsea’s guaranteed income project, former state senator, clean energy business leader and current gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing today called for Massachusetts to invest in an expanded guaranteed income pilot program, targeted at the 20 communities with the highest poverty rates.
Downing’s call today follows the release of his campaign’s anti-poverty policy plan earlier this week, which focuses on bold reforms around income, food security, housing security, and jobs. Downing committed to the state’s first cabinet-level anti-poverty official, tasked with coordinating efforts across all of state government.
“Poverty in this state was a crisis long before COVID. But the last year made it even more acute,” said Downing. “We are one of the richest states in the nation and a growing number of our neighbors do not know whether they will have food, shelter or safety tonight. We have to act urgently and decisively to change that. The data on guaranteed income is increasingly clear: It is an extremely effective way to help families meet basic needs and build a measure of economic security for those who our economy has failed to serve. The Downing Administration will take a cue from Chelsea and immediately expand this effort to more communities fighting to recover, within its first 100 days.”
In the state legislature, Downing was a leading advocate for anti-poverty measures, spearheading the successful effort to nearly double the EITC in 2016 and securing an additional $3.5 million in additional funding for MEFAP between 2015 and 2018.
Dubbed Chelsea Eats, Chelsea’s guaranteed income project is the largest in the nation to date and delivers between $200-$400 a month to high-need families for a period of six months. Early analysis of the program has shown that nearly 75% of all funds were spent at grocery stores or places where food was the primary product. The results track with analysis of other guaranteed income projects across the United States, where recipients overwhelmingly use the money to meet basic needs and raise their family’s standard of living.