Six months into 'The Denver Basic Income Project' many participants claim to see its benefits in their lives.
The Denver Basic Income Project has been giving money directly to people in need and the results of the social experiment are undeniably incredible. The nonprofit organization's study began making payments to some of the city's most vulnerable people in December 2022. By providing straight-up cash with no strings attached to at-risk groups, they were looking to see how the participants' lives would be affected by it—if at all.
According to the official website of the project, disseminating direct cash to people is a quick and strong way to lessen health unfairness among them. Moreover, it assists in building a just society that is centered around human flourishing. The project aims to invest in people and their ability to thrive when given hope, trust and financial foundation.
According to The Colorado Sun, the experiment has given more than $5 million to 846 people since November 2022. They were divided into three groups: one received $1,000 per month for a year, the other $6,500 the first month and $500 for the next 11 months. The third group, the control group, would get $50 per month.
Six months into the yearlong experiment, an interim report has shown some promising results. "Many participants reported that they have used the money to pay off debt, repair their car, secure housing and enroll in a course," Mark Donovan, founder and executive director of the Denver Basic Income Project, told Insider. "These are all paths that could eventually lead participants out of poverty and allow them to be less dependent on social support programs," he added.
Donovan, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who received a B.A. in Economics from Harvard, founded the project in 2021. He used the money he made from his women’s sweater brand Wooden Ships and an investment in Tesla, along with a $2 million contribution from the city to begin handing out cash to the participants.
A study found that the experiment so far has reduced homelessness, improved mental health and increased full-time employment. Those that received $500 or more per month saw the biggest benefits. Less than 10 percent of the participants lived in their own homes or apartments at the beginning of the experiment, but at the halfway point, more than a third lived in their own housing. The groups found themselves sleeping on the street less and appeared to be securing full-time work at higher rates when given more money.
Previously, just three months into the program, participants did find benefits that felt life-changing. "It's frustrating to not have anything to give," said one unnamed participant in an initial report released a few months ago by the Denver Basic Income Project (DBIP), according to the Denverite. 'I think that's the hardest part of poverty. Not only are you seen as without value—you also don't have that kind of value to contribute to other people's lives, and it's frustrating. I wouldn't have been able to do those Christmas gifts without DBIP."
It isn't the first experiment of its kind. Vancouver, Canada, recently gave about $5,600 to a group of more than a hundred people experiencing poverty. "Housing improved, it reduced homelessness, it increased spending and savings over time, and was a net savings for government and taxpayers," Jiaying Zhao, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, told The Guardian.
Every person deserves to live a life of dignity with basic needs like shelter and food. Steve Berg, chief policy officer for the National Alliance to End Homelessness, added, "We have a lot of people who, because of the economy, are homeless and working every day but just can't get the money together at one time to do what you need to do to get into an apartment. People with severe behavioral health disabilities need other things and if we can get a whole bunch of people who have jobs and are homeless out of homelessness, it'll free up resources for cases who have more complex issues."