Dec 19, 2023 - News

Basic income pilot shows reduction in homelessness

Illustration of a ladder with hundred-dollar bills on the rungs.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Early results from a guaranteed basic income pilot in San Francisco and Los Angeles showed a reduction in homelessness among participants in both cities.

What's happening: Nonprofit Miracle Messages, which aims to help unhoused people rebuild social support networks, is conducting a basic income program in which participants get $750 a month for a year.

  • Participants were less likely to remain unsheltered and closer to being able to meet their basic needs, compared to those without access to guaranteed basic income, according to the interim report by the University of Southern California's school of social work.

By the numbers: So far, 69 people have received at least six monthly payments as part of the program.

  • After six months, just 12% of those participants said they spent time unsheltered in the past month, down from 30% of participants who said they spent time unsheltered in the past month at the start of the program.
  • By the end of the pilot next October, 103 people throughout San Francisco and Los Angeles will have received guaranteed basic income.

Why it matters: San Francisco has a well-documented homelessness crisis and this basic income pilot aims to determine whether such programs can be a core strategy in reducing homelessness.

What they're saying: "One of the aims is to scientifically examine the impact that reducing financial and relational poverty can have on creating long-term solutions to homelessness," Ben Henwood, the study's lead researcher, said in a press release.

  • "People have different needs, and we're empowering them to focus on what is going to help them individually."

One participant said in the report that as a diabetic, they've had challenges at the San Francisco-run Tiny Homes site.

  • They said the basic income enables them to buy healthier food.

What to watch: USC plans to collect data through the end of October and release a final report by the end of next year.


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