Worcester, Massachusetts - Worcester, Massachusetts - Worcester Community Action Council, Inc. (WCAC) has announced the launch of a new Universal Basic Income project- the first of its kind in Central Massachusetts. WCAC was awarded $250,000 from the City of Worcester American Rescue Plan Act funds to pilot this initiative to provide a guaranteed monthly income supplement with 52 low-income participating households over a two-year period, testing the strength and sustainability of self-determined, dignified choices tied to goal setting for households seeking to confront income volatility and gain greater economic independence.
WCAC will use a client-determined approach based on individual or family needs for selecting a tiered amount that households will receive, ranging from $100 to $500 per month. Participating households will have access to additional support through cohort-style financial empowerment workshops and coaching and a suite of financial empowerment tools. Guaranteed income will allow participating households to absorb greater risks and fill wage gaps as they explore career pathways or attend training while supporting their families.
WCAC Executive Director Marybeth Campbell explained, "This pilot program will further financial stability for local families while allowing them to focus on self-determined goals around critical needs such as housing, employment, childcare, and health."
“On behalf of my administration, I am pleased to support the WCAC’s pilot program to allocate unrestricted financial support and coaching services to low-income families,” said Worcester City Manager Eric D. Batista. “This program will allow us to see the potential benefits that cash assistance can provide for families and empower them to achieve self-sufficiency through autonomous means. I look forward to seeing the results and how this model could be scaled up in the future.”
The core of the UBI model is a no-means, no strings attached set of supplemental income funds. Participating households will receive monthly surveys to gather data about how funds were spent in broad categories, including food, housing, household supplies, technology, and job training activities. The intent is to show what people spend the money on to overcome various barriers in their life such as food security, childcare, transportation, etc., and if the supplemental income allows them to access greater opportunities including work, housing retention, car repairs, savings, credit building/debt reduction, etc.
Most UBI models only include the monthly supplement. WCAC’s model is unique in that it is also adding coaching services using EMPath’s Economic Mobility Mentoring model as a foundational approach. Based on coaching interventions that use the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency model, WCAC will track the categories of goals set by the household at the time of their first coaching session, such as employment, finance, well-being, housing, or education.
“We are eager to test this work at a small scale initially with an objective to expand and grow based on what we learn from our participating families, and how we might influence future policy making and access to public benefit systems,” said Campbell.