Lawmakers look to lift welfare cap to help low-income families

One in six children in Massachusetts lives below the poverty line.

BOSTON (WWLP) – Many people take basic necessities like food and clothing for granted, but some low-income families in Massachusetts struggle to afford these essentials under the current welfare system.

They’re calling on state lawmakers to support a bill that would lift the welfare cap on children. A move that would help provide their kids with basic needs like diapers and food. A mother with one child currently receives $478 per month. Under the bill, families with another child would receive an extra $100 per month, money that would help them afford basic necessities.

“Families don’t just feed one child, they feed both children,” State Representative Marjorie Decker explained. “In fact, we’re acknowledging that they’re going to take those resources and they’re going to divide them between two children as opposed to meeting the needs of each child.”

Maren Tober, a mother living in South Boston, told 22News that her family went without toilet paper and laundry detergent while on welfare. She is supporting her family while going to college, to get her children out of poverty.

“You can get a much better paying position and ultimately we don’t have to be on benefits,” Tober said. “We don’t want to be on benefits; nobody wants to be. I think we all just, we have to, that’s why we do it. You need to support your family somehow.”

Critics argue that they don’t want their taxpayer dollars going to families that abuse the system, lawmakers like State Senator Sal DiDomenico said that’s not the case. “This is not a hand out. I haven’t met one person that’s having children to get $100 extra a month. That’s ridiculous.”

The number of low-income families receiving cash assistance has declined by more than 80,000 in the last 24 years. Massachusetts would reach 9,000 children living in deep poverty by lifting the cap.

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