For those living below the poverty line in Boston, receiving a guaranteed monthly cash payment would bolster the workforce, improve health and allow more people to get a college education, according to supporters of the program.
The Boston City Council is currently weighing universal income and looking at other cities and states that have done it to see the results. The details of who might qualify and how much money they could receive remain unclear.
Councilor Kendra Lara helped spearhead the effort, noting that she grew up living under the poverty line.
Lara said on Greater Boston, "I'm personally very familiar with the struggles of working class families here in the city of Boston."
While some on the council argued that a guaranteed income could lead people to work less, Lara and other supporters said it does quite the opposite.
Jessica Ridge, East Coast partnership director for UpTogether, said families spend the money on essentials, like bills, and use it to think about the future, like going back to school or taking care of health needs.
"They're able to stabilize in the work that they're in, they're able to go to school ... their housing is stabilized, it is not borne out in the data that they work less," Ridge said.
UpTogether advocates for direct payments as a solution to poverty and has worked in Boston for 13 years distributing $195 million to families across the country.
"We can invest in people now," Ridge said.
Lara said the program could be a pilot or permanent, noting that the city still has not recovered from the pandemic, and many folks are struggling to make ends meet.
"We are very much in agreement that this is not only a program that works, that's transformative for people who are living in poverty, that this is something we should do," Lara said.
Watch: Boston explores direct payment program as solution to poverty