Denver Allocates $2M in Taxpayer Funds to Provide Homeless Women, Trans and Non-Binary People With $12,000 No-Strings-Attached Cash

by J Pelkey
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Screenshot / Homeless encampment in Denver, Colorado

Denver is set to give 140 transgender and non-binary people with $12,000 in no-strings-attached cash as part of a program testing universal basic income.

The city has allocated $2M from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the program, which will be run by the Denver Basic Income Project, mainly to get women, transgender and non-binary people housed.

The total program, which will cost around $9M, aims to help around 820 people, but the $2M in funds provided by the city will go to around 140 people.

The rest of the money will be raised through charitable foundations, including the Colorado Health Foundation and the Denver Foundation, Denver Basic Income Project founder Mark Donovan told Axios Denver.

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Around 4,700 households are experiencing homelessness in Denver as of January 2022. 

The participants, which will mainly be women, transgender, and non-binary individuals, will be chosen at random after applying and will more than likely begin receiving payments starting in November, according to ABC 7 Denver.

All participants will also get a free cell phone and a year of service.

More from the Denverite:

City Council voted Monday to contribute $2 million to the Denver Basic Income Project, an organization giving people experiencing homelessness $12,000 over the course of one year. The city’s contribution will specifically go to 140 women, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals and families – a group that has seen rising levels of homelessness during the pandemic.

Founded by Denver resident Mark Donovan, who provided the initial funding, Denver Basic Income Project is partnering with the University of Denver’s Center for Housing and Homelessness research. It’s part of a larger approach to homelessness that gives cash to people directly, who can then spend the money on whatever they need – no strings attached. Similar projects are in the works across the country, in Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago and more.

“Cash is increasingly being seen as the benchmark against which all forms of aid and assistance should be compared,” Donovan said in a council committee meeting in August. “We’re building this on a principle of trust… to honor the agency of individuals to know what’s needed in their life.”

In total, 520 households will each get $12,000 over the course of a year, with additional funding coming from private donors and foundations. While the city’s contract is specifically for 140 women and transgender and gender-nonconforming people, the project as a whole is open to people 18 or older, connected with a partner organization and do not have “severe unaddressed mental health or substance abuse issues,” according to the Denver Basic Income Project’s website.

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