DENVER (KDVR) — Denver City Council is now officially a part of a new initiative to curb rising homelessness in the city. Council members voted unanimously on Monday to fork over $2 million for the project that will go directly into the hands of those living on the streets.

The Denver Basic Income Project is the first of its kind for Denver and the founder, Mark Donavan, tells FOX31 the goal is to help the most vulnerable population thrive in the Denver community, adding the main objective is to get the unhoused into homes.

“The more that we come together with the city and show that we can do better and show better support and create accelerated pathways out of homelessness, that’s fantastic,” Donavan said. “So, we’re thrilled to have them as a partner.”

On Monday, council members passed the measure to give $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to the project. The Denver Basic Income Project will give certain members of the homeless community direct cash, $12,000 for a year, to try and get them back on their feet.

Donavan said it is a pilot program in Denver but has proven to be effective in other states. He said the goal is to serve 820 people in its first phase, saying they’ve already raised more than $7 million, and the $2 million from the city will guarantee more help to those who need it the most.

“We have an affordable housing crisis and it’s getting increasingly difficult for people to stay housed and that’s a huge problem, so the trend is things are getting worse, not better,” Donavan said. “This is an emergency measure that will stabilize and help people that are in really challenging situations.”

How the Denver Basic Income Project will work

The trial will involve the applicants being separated into three groups. The first will get $6,500 up front and then $500 for 11 months. The second group will get $1,000 a month for one year. The last group will act as a control group and those will get $50 a month for one year.

Donavan said impact and outcome will be studied for the groups during the year. Applications for those in need will be available next month, but there are strict eligibility requirements.

Eligibility for participation includes:

  • Must be connected with one of the partner service providers
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness, meaning they are without fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, which includes:
    • Living in motels, hotels, camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
    • Sharing housing due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason ( e.g. being “doubled up” or “couch surfing”);
    • Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings;
    • Living in emergency shelters or transitional shelters;
    • People whose nighttime residence is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations.
  • Individuals who do not have severe and unaddressed mental health or substance use needs.
  • Individuals who are 18 years old and older