Worcester implements work or leave requirement for public housing residents

WORCESTER, Mass. ( - The Worcester Housing Authority has a new requirement for all residents in state-funded public housing: work, go to school, or get out.

"A Better Life" began as a voluntary program in 2013, then evolved to be mandatory for new incoming residents.

Residents must go work 30 hours a week, be enrolled in classes, or do community service in order to .

FOX25's Kerry Kavanaugh spoke with the director of WHA, Ray Mariano about the expansion of the program he designed and his response to criticism that it's too rigid. Mariano says the federal government made him stop running the program in the federally funded housing because it was in violation of federal rules.

Despite that, Worcester hopes it is something that will catch on and expand in Massachusetts.

Mariano says they do not make families go at it alone.

"Well, every family who has children, faces challenges. Having challenges doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try,” Mariano said.

Kavanaugh also spoke with two program participants who say the program has changed their lives.