Denver to test universal basic income by giving out monthly payments to the homeless

The Denver city council on Monday approved a plan proposed by Mayor Michael Hancock early last month to take part in the Denver Basic Income Project.

The plan will use $2 million in pandemic federal relief funds to give out monthly payments to a total of 140 people living in homeless shelters who are deemed most vulnerable. This includes women, families and people who are gender nonconforming or nonbinary, per the Washington Examiner.

The city will execute the plan in partnership with Impact Charitable. The aim of the program is to see whether or not direct payments will aid in lifting people out of homelessness.

According to the Denver Post, participants will be split into two groups. One will receive $6,500 upfront and an additional $500 a month for 11 months. The other group will be given $1,000 every month for a whole year.

To qualify for the program, applicants are required to either be working with a local service provider like the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless or at the Colorado Village Collaborative. Participants will be disqualified if they are currently suffering from an unaddressed mental health issue or substance abuse.

The direct payments are expected to be sent out as early as November.

Jennifer Biess, who currently serves as the director of data, policy and strategy for the city’s Department of Housing Stability, touted the program in a council committee meeting last month.

“Through this project, we believe we can provide a small amount of basic income that can help people leave that experience of homelessness quickly and cost-effectively,” Biess said. “We have seen particular increases in the number of women using our shelter system. We have seen a tripling of that over the course of the pandemic. We have also seen an increase in the use of the family shelter system.”

According to Mashable, at least 23 cities in the United States have adopted some sort of Universal Basic Income program.



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