Somerville, Massachusetts will give $750 a month in basic income payments to families who are in danger of losing their housing.

Somerville, Massachusetts will pilot a guaranteed basic income program for 200 low-income families.The program will offer $750 no-strings monthly payments to keep people in their homes.Somerville’s income pilot joins similar programs in Austin, San Antonio, Denver, and Minneapolis. 

A Massachusetts city is giving low-income families $750 a month, no strings attached. The guaranteed basic income program will focus on residents who are in danger of losing their homes.

The Somerville GBI Pilot will serve about 200 low-income families currently experiencing housing insecurity. Participants must already be enrolled in local social and housing services.

The city — located northwest of Boston — announced March 20 that it will allocate $1.8 million toward the program.

For a full year, participating households will receive cash payments every month to spend as they choose. Somerville began enrolling eligible households last month and will start payments in July.

Guaranteed basic income is rising in popularity in American cities. Income programs have been piloted in San Antonio, Austin, Boston, Minneapolis, and Durham, North Carolina. Some programs, like one in Denver, have been so successful that their funding was extended.

Basic-income participants have told Business Insider they used the money to pay rent, buy groceries, pay off credit-card debt, and support their children.

“My life was always just a couple hundred dollars short,” a participant in San Antonio’s income program told BI. “For the first time, I can breathe.”

Basic income could help Somerville families pay rent

The City of Somerville said in a press release that their basic-income pilot aims to test the GBI model as a potential long-term poverty solution.

Nearly 17% of all renting households in Somerville spend more than half of their income on housing, per the city. And, 51% percent of all renters in the Greater Boston Area were cost-burdened in 2022, according to The Boston Foundation’s 2023 Housing Report Card. To be considered cost-burdened, a household must spend at least 30% of their income on housing.

“Sometimes you just need some solid ground under your feet to get by and move forward, and this program is looking to provide that foothold,” Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne said in a public statement. Ballantyne is a member of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income.

The city will pull funding from President Joe Biden’s 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, also known as ARPA. The federal funds are intended to alleviate the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic in US cities. Somerville previously dedicated millions in ARPA funds to childcare and rental assistance programs.

Researchers at The University of Massachusetts will evaluate the impact of GBI on Somerville participants throughout the program’s run, the city said. Program findings will be shared with local leaders and the public.

Despite opposition, income pilots continue across the country

The introduction of GBI programs hasn’t been without opposition. In Arizona, South Dakota, Iowa, and Texas, Republican legislatures and governors are making an effort to ban basic income.

Some lawmakers have called GBI “a socialist idea” and worry it will make people too dependent on the government.

“I think the Founding Fathers would say that is very contrary to our capitalist system and encouraging people to work,” John Gillette, a Republican state representative from Arizona, told BI last month.

Still, basic income programs continue to be piloted at the local level. St. Louis, Missouri recently distributed $500 monthly payments to low-income families, and Flint, Michigan is offering funds to new mothers. A program in Atlanta is also offering no-strings payments to low-income Black women.

Have you benefited from a guaranteed basic-income program? Share your story with this reporter at

Read the original article on Business Insider


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