DENVER — On Monday, Denver City Council approved a contract that will provide a basic income to a group of people experiencing homelessness to help them find housing.
“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 increased numbers of women using our shelter system,” said Angie Nelson with the City of Denver’s Department of Housing Stability (HOST).
The department has been looking at lower-cost solutions to homelessness that are also effective. One solution the city is testing is through a partnership with the Denver Basic Income Project, an organization that's providing direct cash payments to 820 individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Under the contract, Denver will give the Denver Basic Income Project $2 million to help support more than 140 women, transgender and gender non-confirming individuals, and families experiencing homelessness. The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, the city said in a press release.
Mark Donovan, founder of the Denver Basic Income Project, said the organization will begin collecting applications next month, and then there will be a random selection process.
"People will be placed into three different groups. One group will get $6,500 upfront and then $500 a month for 11 months. A second group will get a $1,000 a month for 12 months,” Donovan explained.
In addition, Donovan said there will be a comparison group of 300 people that will receive $50 a month for 12 months for completing surveys so the organization can analyze how the program works and build upon the feedback.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless will track how people use the money. It will also directly work with participants, helping them find affordable housing and other housing needs.
“So furniture and kitchen supplies, which is, you know, necessary in order to make a housing placement successful,” said Cathy Alderman with the Colorado Coalition for Homeless. “We’re looking for housing where the rents aren't going to go up by $200 a month once we place somebody there."
The City of Denver called the project another step in the right direction to reducing homelessness.
“We feel confident that we're making the right kind of investments to help move the needle on this issue and deliver on those reductions in homelessness that we've committed to for this city,” said Nelson.
According to the Denver Basic Income Project, in order to qualify, applicants must:
- Be 18 years old and older
- Be connected with one of its partner service providers
- Cannot have severe and unaddressed mental health or substance use needs
The application period opens next month, and the city hopes to start distributing money beginning in November.
To learn more about the program, click here.