In Denver Colorado, a cash distribution program targeting those who experience homelessness is closing in on fully launching. The Denver Basic Income Project (DBIP) seeks to give a basic income to individuals to demonstrate that recipients of direct cash payments are more likely to obtain stable housing, gain more opportunity for stable employment, and empower people to assert their dignity and agency while improving their lives and improve the lives of those around them. The project aims to implement and study methods of building a healthier society, grounded in the values of social justice, anti-poverty, anti-oppression, and self-determination.

Some cash payments have already begun under a soft launch to understand where improvements can be made in the structure and implementation of the study. This approach aims to ensure that the program is as effective as it possibly can be over the 12-month span the full launch will cover. The Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver will be the organization conducting the study of results, and multiple organizations in Denver will be assisting in the implementation of the program.

Mark Donovan, the project founder, says “Direct cash payments move toward eliminating wealth inequality and begin to build a healthier community here in Denver and hopefully we’ll create a model for other cities to follow.” DBIP is itself modeled on two successful projects based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Stockton, California. Both the New Leaf Project in Vancouver, and the SEED project in Stockton showed positive effects on the lives of participants. In comparison to what the United States has currently implemented to help these people, “Our society can do better” says Donovan.

The Mayor of Denver, Michael B. Hancock, is in partnership with DBIP through Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a network of Mayors throughout the U.S. dedicated to advocating for a guaranteed income. “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” said Hancock. Mayor Hancock is concerned about a variety of issues such as homelessness, disparity in opportunity, and a withering middle class because of a lack of equity in economic systems.

There has been a large amount of fundraising for the project that continues. DBIP is still accepting donations towards its goal of securing 7.8 million dollars. DBIP is also currently applying the lessons learned from its initial soft launch and strengthening itself and its relationship with the community, especially leaders and participants from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Everything points to DBIP being an extremely promising endeavor worth paying attention to.

If you would like to read more about the Denver Basic Income Project you can read a recent guest column written by Mark Donovan for The Pulse Institute here.

Aaron Lamb, April 11, 2022

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