Breaking News
More () »

Denver to donate $2 million toward Basic Income Project launch

Come November, 820 people experiencing homelessness will receive direct cash payments for a year.

DENVER — A Denver entrepreneur believes cash handouts with no strings attached can help solve homelessness, and the city is about to spend $2 million to find out.

Mark Donovan founded the Denver Basic Income Project after watching people lose their jobs and homes in 2020. 

"I felt this really burning urgent need to take action," Donovan said. 

The successful entrepreneur had a lot of money invested in Tesla, and his investment only grew during the pandemic. 

"You know when it comes to privilege I check off all the boxes as a white, CIS, able, male," Donovan said. "And so I'm fortunate to have had a lot of opportunities that a lot of people don't, and I felt an obligation to do everything I could to leverage that privilege to the benefit of others." 

Donovan took half a million of that Tesla money and created the Denver Basic Income Project. 

It uses the theory that if you give people experiencing homelessness the cash they need to survive, they'll use it to lift themselves out of their current circumstances. 

Donovan cites the New Leaf Project in Vancouver as a successful model. 

"People are frustrated by the hoops they have to jump through just to get a few scraps," he explained. "When you say to somebody we trust you, we believe in you, and we know that you know what you need in your life, that's powerful." 

Since his initial investment, the project has raised several millions more. 

This week, Denver approved contributing $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. 

RELATED: Denver pilot program aims to help struggling families through universal basic income

"We haven't done formal research yet, but you're going to start seeing some really exciting stories emerging from this space and from this work," Donovan said. 

The formal research by the University of Denver begins with the full launch of the project in November, when 820 people will get direct cash payments each month for a year. 

RELATED: What happens if you give people experiencing homelessness a basic income?

"It's listening to them and letting them take the wheel, because it's their life," Donovan said. 

In preparation for the full launch, the project has run two trials. In 2021, the project gave 11 people $1,000 a month for a year. 

This July they had a soft launch with 28 people, and they are on the third payment.


Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out