Most income assistance programs come with conditions – participants have to spend the money a certain way, whether on rent, utilities, food, or other necessities. The S.T.E.P (Striving Towards Economic Prosperity) pilot at United South End Settlements is a Guaranteed Income Program where participants receive $800 monthly for 18 months without requirements on how they spend the money. The pilot began in October, and participating families have received two months of payments.
A pilot like S.T.E.P is easy to measure with numbers. We can examine a family’s income, the cost of their rent, or how they choose to spend their money. However, just looking at numbers doesn’t represent the experiences and resiliency of families who have persisted in the face of economic hardship. We have created a storytelling cohort to better understand and represent these families. This cohort allows interested participants of S.T.E.P to share their experiences to develop a strength-based understanding of economic mobility and the impact of unrestricted cash funds. While our pilot aims to provide families with additional support, it is ultimately their strength that has led to their success.
Perla and her children find strength in one another. “I have two kids; both are everything for me. I try to do whatever I can for both of them,” Perla said. “I have a beautiful family because we support each other.”
Perla is currently studying English. She hopes that by doing so, she will be able to communicate more effectively and secure a better job for herself and a brighter future for her children.
Perla’s children both love dancing, so they often spend quality time playing music and dancing together – Merengue, Bachata, and Dominican rhythms are all a staple in her home. She and her family always eat together, and she hopes that with S.T.E.P, she will eventually be able to take her family on vacation to New York.