The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless hosts the 31st annual "We Will Remember: Homeless Persons' Memorial Vigil" in front of the City and County Building on Dec. 21, 2020 in Denver. Due to COVID-19, this year's event was a socially-distanced luminary walk instead of the large community gathering, with the names appearing of each person who passed this year.

Denver would give 140 people a guaranteed income of $1,000 a month for up to a year to help them out of homelessness under a proposal unveiled this week by Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver's Department of Housing Stability.

The city would use $2 million in federal stimulus money to fund the proposed program, which would need to be approved by the Denver City Council. Recipients would include women and people who identify as transgender or nonbinary, according to HOST.

“Just as important as housing and shelter is a regular source of income for those experiencing homelessness,” Hancock said in a statement. “This direct cash assistance will help more than 140 women and families currently in shelters move into stable housing, and provide support so they can stay housed, while opening space in our shelters to serve more people.”

HOST is working through the legislative process of requesting a resolution to appear in front of a council committee in the coming weeks to create a contract with the Denver Basic Income Project. The project provides regular cash assistance to 820 individuals and families, 140 of whom would be supported by the city’s contributions.

According to HOST, basic income programs like this one have seen success in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Richmond, Virginia. In a news release, HOST officials said research shows that providing basic income supports increased full-time employment, quicker stable housing, increased food security and reduced spending on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

“By providing a small amount of basic income, the City can help lift people out of homelessness more quickly and cost-effectively,” HOST Executive Director Britta Fisher said in the release. “We are confident in the resiliency of our residents and their ability to leverage a small amount of basic income to work best in their unique, individual circumstances.”

The program would apply to eligible people already using the shelter system. It would be evaluated by the University of Denver’s Center for Housing and Homelessness Research with a randomized control trial. Throughout the duration of the pilot, officials would measure housing outcomes, use of shelter and homeless services, psychological health and substance use improvement.

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