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Some unhoused people in Denver will start to receive cash payments this month

Through Denver Basic Income Project, some people will receive up to $1,000 per month for a year.

DENVER — Starting this month, some people experiencing homelessness in Denver will be receiving up to $1,000 per month. 

Applications for the Denver Basic Income Project closed on Thursday. The group's founder, Mark Donovan, said they received more than 1,400 applications. 

Denver Basic Income Project is giving direct payments to 820 people with no strings attached.

Of those, 260 people will get $6,500 upfront and $500 a month for the remaining 11 months. Another 260 people will receive $1,000 per month for a year. The remaining 300 people will get $50 per month for a year. 

Donovan said recipients are selected randomly from the pool of qualified applicants. They plan to start distributing direct payments on Nov. 15.

"We see that combination of a cash stabilizing cash income floor along with support services as a powerful way to support individuals in great need," he said. 

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

individuals are eligible to receive cash if they are experiencing homelessness, do not have unaddressed mental health or substance use needs, are 18 years old or older, and are connected to one of the community-based organizations participating in the Denver Basic Income Project.

The project is accessible to anyone, and all qualified applicants may apply regardless of race, color, religion, gender identity or age.

"What our initial trials and other programs are showing is that this is an effective way to create some hope and some opportunity for people to dig out of a really difficult hole and start to rebuild their lives," Donovan said.

Denver Basic Income Project gets funds through private donations and public funders. The City and County of Denver has invested $2 million of COVID relief funds into this idea of basic income.

The city allocated the American Rescue Plan Act funding to provide money for more than 140 women, transgender and gender nonconforming people, and families in shelters.

RELATED: Denver to donate $2 million toward Basic Income Project launch

Donovan said participants are not required to share how they are using the money. The program is based on trust and consent. Donovan said they didn't want to tell people what the organization thinks they need to do to get out of their current situation.

Recipients will be invited to participate in research surveys and interviews during the project. One of the purposes of that research is to find out if unhoused people who receive a guaranteed basic income experience better housing stability than others. 

"Individuals who are in the program are not obligated to do the research," Donovan said. "Although in our second trial with 28 individuals, 27 agreed to participate in the research because they know they are helping us to demonstrate how effective this can be and we all want to try to expand it."

The two pilot projects occurred in August 2021 and July 2022. 

Donovan said it could take several months to enroll all 820 people into the program.


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