The Baker administration is distributing $500 checks to 500,000 low-income essential workers across Massachusetts.
Gov. Charlie Baker said it's part of his rescue plan meant to help those affected most by the pandemic.
The payments will begin to be mailed out to qualifying workers at the end of March.
Chelsea resident Catherine Palencia has worked at a health center in East Boston through the pandemic.
"It's still stressful," she noted while chuckling.
She's what the state would consider an essential worker, someone who may qualify for next month's $500 disbursement. The money has been set aside from the $4 billion spending package Baker signed in December.
"For me, in my case, it wouldn't really help much with anything," said Palencia. "Especially for a single person."
The rising cost of living has made it harder for other essential workers, like Katie Cabral, a seventh-grade Chelsea teacher. She hopes the checks are only the beginning of longer-term help.
"I know that this payment is going to help a lot of folks, but I do know that we still need more, especially in a resilient place like Chelsea, where we do need to be uplifting communities or color," she said.
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The first round of payments will be determined by 2020 state tax returns. To be eligible, a person must have a household income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level, and not have received unemployment compensation in 2020.
That means a single worker with no dependents earning less than $38,280 would qualify. A family of four would get a check if their total income doesn't exceed $78,600.
Although La Colaborativa Health Equity Director Cristina Alonso applauds the move, she believes a more radical approach is needed to help low-income essential workers.
"We have to look at what's going on in our policies that we have families that are making under $38,000 a year and living in the area of Boston," she said. "We know that that's not sustainable."
The payments will be mailed automatically, while a second round of checks will be announced at a later date.