Denver Gave People Living on the Street $1,000 Per Month and This Is What Happened

By: Lauren | Last updated: Nov 08, 2023

There are around 582,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States, about 3,000 of whom live in the city of Denver, Colorado. 

So in order to help these people, as well as the city itself, one organization in Denver came up with an idea to give real money to individuals on the street, and the results were incredibly interesting. 

The Universal Basic Income Experiment

The Universal Basic Income Experiment (UBI) essentially proved that recipients of actual income experienced improved mental health and access to safer living situations. 

Man gives food to homeless person

Source: Freepik

So Denver decided to put the experiment into practice and began handing out monthly payments to some of its unhoused residents. 


Denver’s Payment Plan

Here’s how it works: The city of Denver allowed those experiencing homelessness to enroll in the Denver Basic Income Project.

Unsheltered people set up camp for the night on the street

Source: David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Those who did were able to receive either $6,500 upfront followed by $500 per month, $1,000 every month consistently, or even just $50 per month. 

Denver Basic Income Project’s Statistics

The Denver Basic Income Project reported seriously impressive statistics just six months after the plan was put into place. 

Founder of the Denver Basic Income Project


First, the percentage of participants who stated they consistently slept outside decreased from 8% to 2%, and the number of those sleeping in a shelter fell from 23% to 10%. 

Denver’s Homeless Participants Got to Work

In addition to finding places to live with their new monthly allotment, many of Denver’s homeless in the program also got jobs almost immediately. 

Woman holding a paycheck

Source: Freepik

In fact, the percentage of people working full-time increased from 18% to 25% for those who opted to receive $500 per month, and to 35% for those getting $1,000 every month. 

Denver Isn’t the Only City Experimenting With UBI

Other cities such as San Francisco, California and Vancouver, Canada have also seen the benefits of a UBI program. 

Apartment for rent sign hanging from a building

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

San Francisco reported that with only $500 a month, many of its participants were able to find permanent housing, and Vancouver said that with a one time allotment of $5,600, many people in their city found housing almost immediately. 


Homelessness Is Even Affecting the Employed Members of the Country

It’s important to understand that of the hundreds of thousands of people experiencing homelessness across the country, many are already employed. 

Protestors fight for homes for the homeless

Source: Guy Smallman/Getty Images

However, with the ever-increasing rent costs, those who work minimum wage jobs simply cannot afford housing on their small salaries. 


Most People Experiencing Homelessness Want to Work

As well, it’s a common misconception that people living on the streets or in shelters who don’t have jobs don’t actually want to work. 

Man holding sign that reads “will work for food”

Source: iStock

Realistically, the majority of people struggle to find work as they need money to keep themselves presentable, get to work on time, and even apply for jobs as most applications are only accepted online.


The UBI Results Are Encouraging

Mark Donovan, founder and executive director of the Denver Basic Income Project explained to the media that the results from their program are extremely encouraging. 

Man gives money to man who needs food for family

Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

He said, “These are all paths that could eventually lead participants out of poverty and allow them to be less dependent on social support programs.”


Homelessness in Denver

While this kind of program is extremely important and profoundly helpful, it’s not enough to completely solve the homelessness issue in Denver. 

Homeless man reads a book under a bridge

Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

According to a recent study, homelessness in Denver is at an all time high, rising by almost 44% in the last five years. And many argue that in order to make a real difference, local officials have to create a concrete solution. 


Supporting the Denver Basic Income Project

Of course, one way they could get started is by supporting the Denver Basic Income Project and other programs like it. 

Woman holds sign that promotes the Denver Basic Income Project


But in order to make that happen, the residents of Denver will need to vote for government officials that believe in the value of the UBI experiment. 


People Experiencing Homelessness Just Need a Little Help

The truth is that many people experiencing homelessness in America simply need a little help to get back on their feet.

Cardboard sign that reads “Homeless Not Hopeless”

Source: Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

And with programs such as the Denver Basic Income Project and other UBI experiments becoming more popular around the country, many hope that these people will finally be able to do exactly that.