Should Denver’s ‘Basic Income’ Project Be Implemented Nationwide?

The results are encouraging so far. Should Denver’s ‘Basic Income’ Project Be Implemented Nationwide? Giphy

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There are a few places across the country that have rolled out various forms of “universal basic income,” which is a strategy that involves handing out monthly payments to citizens. The notion is controversial, but it’s seen increased popularity in recent years as AI threatens to wipe out many jobs and homelessness rates tick up in cities nationwide.

If you’re not sure whether you’d support such a strategy, let’s take a look at what one major city has learned since approving a limited version of the plan last year.

Who received what?

The Denver Basic Income Project was launched by a businessman who wanted to use some of this own money to see how providing cash payments to those in need would change their lives. Mark Donovan was able to secure a $2 million investment from city officials to help carry out his plan, which played out like this:

  • About 800 individuals were chosen to receive payments about a year ago.
  • One group received $50 per month.
  • A second group was given $6,500 upfront and $500 each month thereafter.
  • The final group got monthly payments of $1,000.

While early results are inconclusive, Donovan said that the data is encouraging.

What did it accomplish?

Those who received the largest payments clearly benefited the most from the program.

Among those who received at least $500 per month, the housing situation improved dramatically. Only 10% had a stable residence at the beginning and that percentage has now more than tripled.

About 6% of those who received the $1,000 payments were regularly sleeping outside when the program started. That number has now dropped to zero.

Even the smallest payments had some impact, resulting in a 50% reduction in the rate of visible homelessness among those who got the $50 monthly payments.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee October 6th, 2023
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