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LETTERS

Let’s do even more to ensure Chelsea pilot cash-relief program succeeds

Chelsea residents pick up boxes of groceries this month at a pop-up food pantry, organized by the city of Chelsea.
Chelsea residents pick up boxes of groceries this month at a pop-up food pantry, organized by the city of Chelsea.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Re “Chelsea to test bold cash relief plan” (Page A1, Oct. 18): The City of Chelsea and the Shah Family Foundation deserve recognition for helping Chelsea residents in need. A total of 2,074 families benefiting is a large enough group to have a discernible impact in a city of about 40,000. But the impact of $200 to $400 per month is too small, particularly when many of the recipients are facing months of back rent or mortgage payments due. The time frame of four months is also too short for the pilot program.

My concern is that a perceived “failure” in Chelsea could set back efforts to consider statewide or national programs in the future.

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Some problems need to be attacked on a community basis, rather than on an individual one. I hope that all organizations serving Chelsea will rally around to make this program as successful as possible. What if the following were considered:

▪ Landlords settle on three months’ back rent for 70 cents on the dollar.

▪ Banks do likewise for mortgage payments due.

▪ Ditto for utilities.

▪ Employers (public, private, nonprofit) offer local preference in hiring.

▪ Job training and English for Speakers of Other Languages opportunities are expanded.

▪ Recipients voluntarily “pay back” into a revolving loan fund when they can.

It will take a concerted effort over a prolonged period to demonstrate how well things work in Chelsea and whether a larger program, such as the proposal of $1,000 per month by recent presidential candidate Andrew Yang, might make sense.

Michael Westgate

Chatham

The writer served as executive director of Chelsea Neighborhood Housing Services from 1990 to 2002.