Poverty, Inequality & Opportunity
Pilot project to test universal basic income policy in struggling Massachusetts city
The city of Chelsea, just north of Boston, is one of the poorest communities in the state and among the hardest hit by COVID-19. Starting in November, about 2,000 low-income families there will be given $200 to $400 a month by the city government to cover basic needs. Researchers based in the Kennedy School’s Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston will monitor the impact of the three-month initial phase of the project. Professor Jeffrey Liebman, the Rappaport Institute director, told the Boston Globe: “With all the current attention on inequality, I hope there is still enough energy to also focus on reducing poverty.” The $3 million initial budget is being met by the Chelsea city government, partly with federal pandemic money, as well as funding from the Shah Foundation, the United Way, and Massachusetts General Hospital. A total of 82 percent of those taking part in the program say they suffered financial hardship in the past year, and 38 percent said they sometimes lacked enough to eat.