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Denver to Provide Cash Assistance to Help Lift Individuals Out of Homelessness

City Council approves $2 million contract with the Denver Basic Income Project

Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2022

To help ensure that episodes of homelessness are rare, brief and one-time occurrences, the City and County of Denver will soon provide cash assistance to more than 140 individuals experiencing homelessness. City Council today approved a contract to provide basic income to quickly and cost-effectively move people out of homelessness and back into housing.

The contract, announced in Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s State of the City address and led by the Department of Housing Stability (HOST), utilizes $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to provide monthly cash assistance to more than 140 women, transgender and gender non-confirming individuals, and families in shelters.

“Just as important as housing and shelter is a regular source of income for those experiencing homelessness,” Mayor Hancock said. “This direct cash assistance will help more than 140 women and families currently in shelters move into stable housing, and provide support so they can stay housed, while opening space in our shelters to serve more people.”

Council approved a $2 million contract with the Denver Basic Income Project, a demonstration project providing direct cash payments to 820 individuals and families experiencing homelessness, more than 140 of whom will be supported through the City’s investment. The contract provides up to $1,000 a month for a year in direct cash assistance to eligible people currently using the shelter system.

“We are confident in the resiliency of our residents,” said HOST Executive Director Britta Fisher. “Residents can leverage a small amount of basic income to work best in their own unique circumstances and resolve their episode of homelessness.”

The Denver Basic Income Project works with individuals ages 18 and older who are experiencing homelessness and are connected with a partner service provider. Individuals must not have a severe or untreated mental health or substance use concern to be eligible for the program. City funds will be used for women, transgender and gender non-conforming persons, and families using shelter who also meet the above criteria.

The program will be evaluated by University of Denver’s Center for Housing and Homelessness Research using a randomized control trial. Several measures will be monitored over the course of the program, such as housing outcomes, utilization of shelter and other homeless services, improvements in psychological health and substance use, and other domains of wellbeing for those who opt into the evaluation.

Peer cities with similar programs (including Stockton, CA, Vancouver, Richmond, VA, Los Angeles, and New York) are finding that basic income resulted in many positive outcomes, and research shows this approach supports:

  • Increases in full-time employment;
  • Individuals moving to stable housing sooner;
  • Increases in spending on necessities and recurring staples, such as food, transportation, and utilities;
  • Increased food security; and
  • Reductions in spending on alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.

The pilot is one of many strategies HOST has identified to address homelessness in Denver, as detailed in the department’s Five-Year Strategic Plan.

Denver’s plan for recovery includes direct distribution of $308 million in ARPA Local Relief Funds. Denver offers a dashboard to show precisely how ARPA funds are being deployed to support the Mayor’s priority of Rebuilding for an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy (RISE) and a Recovery Index to demonstrate how our neighborhoods are recovering.

To learn more about the City’s investment in the Denver Basic Income Project, visit denvergov.org

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