Basic income proposed in Denver to curb homelessness

By: Rogelio Mares

See original article here.

DENVER (KDVR) — A new proposed basic income program by the City of Denver would provide financial assistance to some families experiencing homelessness if approved by the council.

The investment would use some taxpayer funds to pay for the $2 million program. This program is based on other models from around the country.

What it comes down to is that some families could receive up to $12,000 over one year in an effort to get them back on their feet and out of homelessness.

“The goal of the program is really to help people regain housing and support as many people in homelessness resolution as we can,” Jennifer Biess, director of data, policy and strategy at the Department of Housing Stability said.

“Participants will receive either a cash transfer to their bank account or a debit card,” Biess said.

Funding is expected to come from, in part, taxpayer dollars, private donors and corporate leaders.

If approved, the program would provide a basic income to qualified families.

“They will receive either $6,500 upfront and $500 for 11 months thereafter,” Biess said, “$1,000 a month for 12 months.”

In order to qualify, families must go through community organizations and meet certain criteria before they’re considered for basic income.

“They must be connected to that community-based organization and they must not have significant and unaddressed substance use and behavioral health need,” Biess said.

The program is modeled after others around the country including one from Stockton, California. There, 125 residents were selected at random to receive $500 a month over two years.

Organizers of the Denver proposal said they’re hoping qualified recipients will use the income for housing, food, utilities, and their necessities, and not drugs or alcohol.

“One study found a 39% reduction in alcohol, drugs and cigarettes,” Biess said.

This is just a proposed program, for now, the results of which could dictate the future of a basic income for qualified families.

“As we gather that information and hear those results, we’ll be considering what our next steps are,” Biess said.

This proposal passed a committee on Wednesday, and now heads to the Denver City Council for a vote on Sept. 12.

If approved, families would begin the process to qualify starting in November.

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