Hannah Reuter Appointed as Director of First-of-Its Kind Program Addressing Benefits Cliff

Kayla Soto, Western MA Economic Development Council

Springfield WORKS/ Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council announced Hannah Reuter as the newly appointed Director of the Cliff Effect Pilot Program, a groundbreaking regional initiative supported by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and the Economic Pathways Coalition of Massachusetts. This innovative program, approved by the Massachusetts State Legislature in October 2022 after seven years of dedicated advocacy, aims to assist low-income workers and their families who encounter a sudden reduction in public benefits when their earnings slightly increase.

Hannah Reuter, previously serving as the Policy Manager for the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL North America), will spearhead this pioneering initiative.

Reuter expressed her enthusiasm for the role: “I am excited to get started and to build on all the fantastic work of the Economic Pathways Coalition of Massachusetts. This is a major breakthrough in helping low-income workers manage the benefits cliff as they pursue new career opportunities.”

The program is committed to supporting up to 100 households across the Commonwealth in their journey toward economic independence, progressively moving away from reliance on public benefits. Importantly, the program’s primary goal is research-oriented and will be funded in partnership with the Department of Transitional Assistance. The amount allocated to each participating family will be contingent on family size and their current level of benefits. Enrolled participants who successfully complete the program will be eligible to receive a savings bonus of up to $10,000.

This pilot is an important step in building a strong economy by removing obstacles for people as they earn a livable wage and grow in their careers,” stated Anne Kandilis, Director of Springfield WORKS/Western Mass Economic Development Council. “To create economic opportunity, we must remove obstacles for people as they work to earn a livable wage by making sure that we do not strip away public benefits too rapidly.”

Reuter expects the Pilot will begin enrolling participants by the end of this year.

Springfield WORKS’ serves as a platform for Partners collaborating to remove systemic and racial barriers to economic opportunity, access, and well-being. Our goal is to eliminate the silos and disconnected programs and services that make it difficult for workers to access living wage jobs and career advancement opportunities.

The Western Mass Economic Development Council’s mission is to deliver the services and business resources that will enable companies to thrive in Western Massachusetts while improving the region’s economy and lifestyle through the creation of quality jobs and enhanced public and private investment.