Denver has allocated $2 million in taxpayer funds to provide homeless women, transgender, and non-binary individuals with a no-strings-attached sum of $12,000 in an effort to pull them out of destitution.
The project will be run by the Denver Basic Income Project, with the city allocating funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to finance the program.
Speaking to Axios, Denver Basic Income Project founder Mark Donovan said the remaining $7 million required will be raised through charities such as the Colorado Health Foundation and the Denver Foundation.
Those who receive the payment will be selected at random, and will mainly be women, transgender and non-binary individuals, with payments starting as early as November, reports ABC 7 Denver.
Speaking to ABC 7, Angie Nelson, the deputy director of Housing Stability and Homelessness Resolution, said, “The pandemic has had a really big impact on the state of homelessness in our community that we've seen increased numbers of families seeking shelter, as well as, an increase number of women using our shelter system.”
The program, which seeks to help 820 people, is divided into three groups. 260 people will receive an upfront payment of $6,500, and $500 a month for the next 12 months after; another 260 will receive $1,000 for 12 months, and a control group of 300 will receive a $50-a-month stipend to complete surveys.
All participants in the program will also receive a free cell phone and a year of service.
According to Nelson, participants will be selected from those already using local shelter services. They cannot have severe substance abuse or mental health issues.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a statement, “The Denver Basic Income Project is an opportunity to explore how the philanthropic community and the private sector can augment public support for those living in poverty, particularly our unhoused neighbors, and extend that hand up to stability.”
Similar programs have been launched in the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles, which are running trials for basic income programs. Donovan expects around 100 cities to join the program by the end of 2022.