Denver, CO

Denver will pay homeless women, transgender basic income; men can apply for money other ways

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) The Denver City Council voted Monday to give $2 million in cash payments to people experiencing homelessness who are women, transgender, and gender non-conforming.

Men can apply for the money, too, through the Denver Basic Income Project. But the city money is earmarked specifically for women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people.

The city will use American Rescue Plan Act funds to funnel the money to 140 people. The cash will be distributed by via Impact Charitable, fiscal agent for the Denver Basic Income Project.

The Denver Basic Income Project is a philanthropic effort to supply monthly payments to 820 people experiencing homelessness in Denver.

In a memo to City Council, Jack Wylie of the Department of Housing Stability lists the advantages of giving homeless people money. “Peer cities with similar programs (including Stockton, Calif., Vancouver, Richmond, Va., Los Angeles, and New York) are finding that basic income resulted in many positive outcomes, and research shows this approach supports:
• Increases in full time employment.
• Individuals moving to stable housing sooner.
• Increases in spending on necessities and recurring staples, such as food, transportation, utilities.
• Increased food security.
• Reductions in spending on alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.”

Opportunity open to shelter dwellers

The city will sign a two-year contract with Impact Charitable, according to the memo. Cash recipients will receive $1,000 per month for a year, no strings attached. Clients will be required to be signed up with social service agencies.

The city also requires recipients already be staying in shelters. By moving people in shelters into more stable housing, which the income can help pay for, space will be opened up in the crowded shelters.

The Denver Basic Income Project will launch in November. Researchers from University of Denver will evaluate the program’s effectiveness.

As part of the larger distribution beyond what the city will provide, two control groups will receive $6,500 up front and $500 per month and another will only receive $50 per month.

Money for food, health care, car repairs

Despite allegations homeless people spend all their money on drugs, in a presentation to council, Department of Housing Stability data manager Jennifer Biess said the money usually goes to medical bills, automobile repairs, food, rent, personal care and educational expenses.

“For those who simply need a small hand up to get back on their feet, providing basic income aids those who can exit shelter more quickly and with less long-term support to do so,” according to the PowerPoint presentation. “By getting people with less intensive needs rehoused, we open needed capacity across our shelter system, particularly to those most vulnerable, including those with health conditions, with families, and those escaping violence. In doing so, we hope to provide additional options for those experiencing unsheltered homelessness, as well.”

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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