Jan 29, 2024 - News

How Denver's universal basic income experiment helped Moriah Rodriguez

Moriah Rodriguez poses for a photograph in downtown Denver. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

The cash payments came at a dire time for Moriah Rodriguez.

Driving the news: In fall 2022, Rodriguez faced eviction from her Denver home. Her primary income source was federal assistance due to a disability after being hit by a car.

  • Her daughter told her about the Denver Basic Income Project, which offers people money with no strings attached.
  • Despite initial skepticism, Rodriguez decided to apply and later was selected to receive $1,000 a month — which helped avoid the eviction and allowed her to find new housing.

Why it matters: She is one of more than 800 people who have received $6.5 million since the project's founding in 2021, and one of the success stories.

What they're saying: "It gives people the opportunity of not feeling judged…it's just like, 'We're supporting you with whatever you're going through,''' Rodriguez tells us.

  • This level of trust and respect while providing income is a huge reason why the program has been successful, founder Mark Donovan tells us. He says the project has created a path towards safety and stability for participants.

Between the lines: A midterm report released last year showed most people getting the money were using it to obtain housing, pay rent, repair cars, and pay off credit card debt — all things Rodriguez tells us she's done.

What's next: Rodriguez is studying to obtain her GED, and says she wants to work in the nonprofit sector, to help young people involved in the criminal justice system and people living with serious brain injuries.

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