DENVER (CBS4) – “People go through a lot of things in life. Not every life is perfect, ”said Michael Evans as he picked up food from a distribution kitchen in Five Points.
Evans has a part-time job in a warehouse and is still homeless.
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“Sometimes it takes a while to get over it and I don’t even know if I’ll ever do it,” he said of his situation.
“A large percentage of America is unable to handle a $ 400 emergency. People live on the fringes and this stress can be debilitating, ”said entrepreneur Mark Donovan. “And a little cash can make all the difference.”
Donovan has been a success in a Bali, Indonesia-based sweater business for over 30 years. He also made a tidy sum of money investing in Tesla. Looking for a way to put his money into something that matches his values, he started giving a thousand dollars a month to a dozen people who hurt people in 2020. He saw great results, like an old friend.
“He holds a Masters in Public Administration and did everything to have a good life and support others. Even so, he was homeless and in his car without a license and had given up. He was literally at the end and that made all the difference. I’ve seen it in action, I know it works. “
Donovan spent half a million dollars on starting the Denver Basic Income Project. The non-profit association plans to start the program in July. They offer eligible candidates monthly payments of $ 1,000 or some other one-time payment of $ 6,500 and then $ 500 per month. The organization says: “Acknowledges that people are disadvantaged by several sources of oppression: race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and other characteristics of identity.”
Other projects have tried to make direct cash payments. One project was in Vancouver, British Columbia and another in Stockton, California. In Stockton, a study showed that people were healthier and had less depression and anxiety. In Vancouver, a study showed that people prioritized recurring expenses for basic necessities such as housing or rent, food, transportation, and utility bills. They also calculated a 39% reduction in spending on things like alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.
“We’re trying to learn how to do it better because it’s not one size fits all. It’s not just about cash either. It’s about trusting and respecting people and really telling them you can do it, ”Donovan said.
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Michael Evans was interested in learning more about it.
“That would be great. That would be a great move. I’m not just trying to hold my hand. Just enough to get me over the threshold “
Participants would be screened for mental health, drug or alcohol issues, said Jessica Swanson, who has signed up as director for the Basic Income Project.
“It is actually an incentive for them. It gives them a leg up. It gives them hope again that they can move forward, that they can get their car, that they can get that mailbox, that they can shower, or whatever it is. You are not discouraged. “
Swanson says they are looking for more private funding at the beginning of the program to raise up to $ 5.5 million. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has approved the project, but the city has not committed any taxpayer money. Swanson says they may seek government help at some point.
“That would be fantastic. We might propose an election initiative to the Denver electorate,” she said. “For now, our focus is on starting this pilot and proving its effectiveness.”
Michael Evans said he could use the money well if he could qualify.
“You give me $ 1,000 a month so maybe I can get some furniture and have something to eat in the fridge.”
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LINK: Denver Basic Income Project