What If You Give $5,800 to Someone Who Is Homeless?

A pilot program that helped 50 unhoused people is poised to scale up this year.

Ray was among 50 people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver who received a lump sum with no strings attached. (Photo by Peter Helm / courtesy of New Leaf Project)

A foundation in Vancouver decided to see what would happen in 2018 if it gave a lump sum of cash to people experiencing homelessness. It changed their lives. 

In this episode of the podcast, Next City Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with Alice Hopkins, program manager at Foundations for Social Change, about the effects on the lives of the first 50 unhoused people who received $7,500 Canadian (about $5,800 U.S.). More importantly, the foundation hopes that by expanding its New Leaf Project later this year it will help counter false narratives that prevent larger scale adoption of direct-cash transfer programs.

“Why are we so obsessed with kind of policing what people are spending their money on anyway?” asks Hopkins. “And where does that come from? And actually, why do we have this idea that people don't know what they need?”

Also on this episode, Next City talks with Lauren Kaljur, who first reported this story for one of Next City’s editorial partners, the Reasons to Be Cheerful project. Kaljur introduces one of the program participants as an example of what’s possible.

Listen to this episode below, or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple and Spotify.

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