Denver City Council approves 1-year cash assistance pilot program

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: September 16, 2022

On Sept. 12, Denver City Council approved a $2 million contract for a program that will provide cash assistance for 230 people or families for one year. This program is in partnership with the nonprofit Impact Charitable and the Denver Basic Income Project (DBIP). The city will work with partners to identify participants for the program using the shelter system. 

This project is designed to support a participant pool that reflects the demographics of those experiencing homelessness in Denver. While a portion of the pilot’s funding stream is earmarked by the City of Denver for a specific demographics including women, families with children under the age of 18, transgender individuals, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary people, this represents 22% of the project’s funds. The remaining 78% of the DBIP project budget will support any and all qualified applicants regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. This is a fully inclusive project, and interested, qualified applicants should not be discouraged if they don’t fit into the City’s demographic list. Learn more from the Denver Basic Income Project here.

Of the 230 households supported in the program, 90 will receive $50 a month. The other 140 will receive $12,000 in basic universal income distributed in two different ways. One group will receive $6,500 initially, then $500 each month. The other group will receive $1,000 each month. These different approaches seek to identify whether a larger initial sum has a greater impact on households receiving basic cash assistance.  

The city plans to enroll households starting in November, with the program set to conclude by the end of 2023, after which it will be evaluated by the University of Denver’s Center for Housing and Homelessness Research. Already, other US cities have tried similar pilot programs with promising results, finding that many participants were able to gain full-time employment, move to stable housing, or even decrease their use of substances.  

The need for housing has only increased during the pandemic. This program will serve as a critical tool for evaluating how cash assistance impacts housing outcomes, utilization of homeless services, mental health, and substance use. Every family has the right to an adequate income that allows them to live with dignity. By providing this kind of support for families, children can grow up in predictable, stable environments with connections to responsive caregivers. With this program, the city has an opportunity to reimagine our economy as one that centers families who are facing the greatest barriers to economic prosperity and wealth so that every family can thrive. To learn more about the program, visit 

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The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit