The House budget in April, under the leadership of Speaker Robert DeLeo, included a provision repealing the welfare family cap – the rule that bars welfare benefits for a child if the child was conceived while the family was receiving welfare. With the Speaker’s strong support, the House unanimously approved a budget amendment with the repeal provision. The Senate budget in May followed the House lead and also provides for family cap repeal.
Currently, the rule denies all welfare benefits for 8,700 children statewide, including 57 children in Revere and Winthrop. Welfare benefits are only $578 a month for a mother and two children, but only $478 a month if one of the children is barred by the family cap. Without any benefits for the new baby, their parents struggle to pay for clean diapers, winter boots, and healthy food.
A broad range of 120 groups – including Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston and Those Who Can for Those in Need in Winthrop – came together to advocate for repeal.
Massachusetts is one of only 17 states – along with Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi – that still have a family cap rule. After the House vote, Speaker DeLeo tweeted: “Proud the House voted to lift the cap on kids and support vulnerable children.” #mapoli. Thanks to Speaker DeLeo’s leadership, Massachusetts appears about to join the seven states that repealed their family caps rather than maintain a policy that hurts kids – and even denies their existence.
More People Biking Calls for More Safe Streets
Last month’s letter from Gary Shoales made some excellent points about the importance of making our streets and intersections safer and more accessible for biking. Winthrop has seen a huge surge in people biking since the launch of the dockless LimeBikes in June. As of July 30, 6,065 LimeBike trips had been taken by 1,918 people since the launch of the program- riding a total of 5,180 miles! And while this is great for public health, sustainability, and overall quality of life, it also poses some significant safety challenges because our streets or intersections have not yet been upgraded with bike friendly designs or signage. Also, many people are not used to driving with bikes on the road or to riding bikes on street themselves. Now is a great time to address these things.
While we are blessed with a well-connected network of mostly quiet, scenic, neighborhood streets, we would all stand to benefit from improvements our streets and intersections that make them safer and more accessible to both people on bikes and people on foot (or in wheelchairs, strollers, etc). Last year the Town Council approved a Complete Streets policy to guide us in doing just that, and it was followed by an extensive “prioritization plan” that outlines key improvements to consider. As a group that has mostly focused on building enthusiasm for biking and bringing people together around bikes, Bike Winthrop is looking forward to working with our town officials and DPW to identify the most strategic investments we can make so that everyone on our streets is safe and Winthrop is no longer “where the bike lane ends”.
We are excited to be partnering with MassBike and the Winthrop Police to host a “Bike Safety Demo” on Saturday, Aug. 18, from noon-3 p.m. outside the Cumming School to help people learn and remember how to ride a bike safely and legally. All are welcome! Details will be posted on our Facebook page this week- and be sure to check out the “Portraits from the Startline” exhibit taking place inside the Winthrop Cultural Center during this time.
Happy Summer Biking!
Sara Wasserman, Chris Aiello, Julia Wallerce,
Tiffany Beck, Bike Winthrop