Two recent Boston Globe articles highlight alarming challenges that face our state: “Hunger on the rise in Mass. as food costs soar” (Business, June 6) and “Five leaders have some advice on health equity for next governor” (Page A1, June 4). As the cost of living skyrockets, health and wealth inequalities are broadening.
Despite this disturbing trend, Massachusetts typically level-funds benefits and programs for low-income people, leaving less to live on and fewer services to access. The Commonwealth received billions in COVID-19 relief, yet the effort to create systemic reform or invest in the futures of people who have been left behind is negligible.
Adjusting cash and food assistance for inflation, investing in primary and behavioral health care, providing housing paired with critical services, building assets, and creating meaningful employment opportunities for people affected by systemic racism is the solution. It also involves taking a hard look at Massachusetts’ own longstanding welfare policies and budget priorities. Over time, the savings in costly emergency responses could save the Commonwealth billions. It would also demonstrate that Massachusetts’ leaders are walking the diversity, equity, and inclusion talk. While government has contributed to these problems, it can also solve them.
Julia E. Kehoe
President and CEO
The writer was the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance from 2007 to 2011.