A Year of Basic Income: Denver's Homeless Find Hope and Housing

Denver's basic income project provided $1,000 a month to the homeless, leading to nearly half of participants securing housing and saving the city $589,214.

A Year of Basic Income: Denver's Homeless Find Hope and Housing
Photo by Jp Valery / Unsplash

The Denver Basic Income Project, launched in fall 2022, aimed to address homelessness by providing over 800 participants with monthly cash payments. The program's results, released in June 2024, revealed significant successes: 45% of participants secured housing, and the city saved $589,214 in public service costs due to fewer emergency room visits and reduced reliance on shelters and jails.

For individuals like Jarun Laws, who had been homeless for nearly a decade, the project was life-changing. Laws was able to secure an apartment, find a better-paying job, and spend more time with his children. “When I got accepted, it changed my life,” Laws shared.

The program demonstrated that direct cash payments could help individuals afford immediate needs like transportation, hygiene, and groceries, and also support long-term stability through housing and employment. Participants in different payment groups, including those receiving $1,000 monthly and those getting an initial lump sum followed by smaller payments, showed improved financial stability and reduced dependence on emergency financial assistance.

The success of Denver’s initiative is prompting discussions on expanding basic income programs nationwide. As Mark Donovan, the project's founder, emphasized, “If we're able to move people into housing and out of homelessness at a lower cost and generate better long-term outcomes, why wouldn't we try to expand and build upon that?”

Denver gave people experiencing homelessness $1,000 a month. A year later, nearly half of participants had housing.
Participants in Denver’s basic income program received up to $1,000 a month. They became more housing secure and landed full-time jobs.