Photo courtesy of Liam Louis ElleVignette Biz
On May 2, we joined Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, City Manager Yi-An Huang, Tina Alu of CEOC, residents Lida Griffin and Victor Gutierrez, and many others at City Hall to announce Rise Up Cambridge. The program is the only city-wide cash assistance program of its kind providing direct cash to low-income Cambridge households with children at or under 21 years of age earning at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Applications open June 1.
The program builds on the Cambridge RISE guaranteed income pilot program that provided $500 a month to 130 single caregivers that was a ‘lifeline’ for families, improving financial situations, food security, family engagement, and so much more.
“People in poverty don’t choose to be there,” said Lida, a Cambridge RISE participant, who described the ways the funding helped her, including creating an emergency fund, paying for mental health services for her and her daughter, maintaining her car, and driving to work without the gas tank on empty. She was also able to go back to school. “We should all have the right to live a healthy, normal life in this country.”
Our Congresswoman credited the partnerships that led to the program launch. “I have to give it up to all the advocates and those of positions of influence who kept that drumbeat up,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Here we find ourselves today with a visionary, dedicated pace-setting Mayor, all my siblings in justice, and colleagues in government who were willing to righteously steward the powers of purse and federal funds.”
City Manager Huang punctuated the values behind the project, saying, “There is a deep dignity to giving people the choice and power to decide that they need. For some people, it will be education. For others, it will be childcare or housing or food or a night out to relax and celebrate life. We all have unique needs and expect to be able to make choices. This program trusts families to make their own decisions and that is the right thing to do.” The crowd erupted in applause.