Guaranteed income programs rely on low-income households to decide for themselves how best to overcome poverty rather than being told what to do. Advocates believe that the combination of confidence and cash from these programs can help people move toward economic stability. At least three Massachusetts nonprofits have recently launched pilot programs to test the theory.
In August, Camp Harbor View began giving 50 families $583 a month for two years. In October, United South End Settlements (USES) chose 16 families to receive $800 a month for 18 months. And UpTogether, in partnership with several Massachusetts entities, has initiated a research project in which nearly 1,500 families get varying amounts of money and social capital for 18 months. Camp Harbor View and USES have already begun seeing encouraging results when comparing program participants to control groups of families who do not receive the cash payments on a monthly basis.
The $7 million pilot program took four years to put together, and receives regular calls from potential funders, nonprofits, and other state governments interested in trying their own versions of a guaranteed income program.