Oregon has been suffering from a growing homeless problem that is spilling into neighborhoods and causing havoc on residents. Tent cities continue to pop up and the displaced are moving into abandoned or vacant homes. While drug usage and crime surges among the vagrant population, city officials don’t seem to be doing much to alleviate the problem. Now, however, Beaver State lawmakers are considering at a bill to provide universal basic income (UBI) not only to low-income households, but also to homeless people.
Homeless to Receive $1,000 Per Month?
SB603, if passed, would “provide 12 monthly payments of $1,000 to individuals who are experiencing homelessness, are at risk of homelessness, are severely rent burdened or earn at or below 60 percent of area median income.” The People’s Housing Assistance Fun Demonstration Program will be operated by the state’s Department of Human Services, and, apparently, there is no plan track the usage of the funds. In fact, as it stands, the recipients can spend the money however they want, although proponents for the bill claim they expect most will use the funds on essentials like housing, food, and clothes.
According to the bill language, a study will be required to see who is receiving the money so that it is broken down between specific demographics including race, risk of domestic violence, and veteran status. The legislation also calls for the Portland State University Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative “to study long-term cash assistance programs and to report findings to interim committee of Legislative Assembly no later than September 15, 2024.”
Despite not monitoring the usage of the funds, especially among the homeless who have a high population of drug users, supporters are optimistic that the program will be a success. A trial study by Foundations for Social Change in partnership with the University of British Columbia found that homeless people with universal basic income funding were able to stabilize their housing situation quicker than those who did not receive the financial assistance. In Vancouver, “fund recipients decreased their drug and alcohol consumption by 39% and boosted spending on groceries, rent, and clothing,” according to The Street, although it wasn’t specified if those receiving the money were low-income or displaced.
Opponents, however, argue that this free money will not help the homeless, many of whom do not want the responsibility of rent or mortgage, taxes, and other duties. Oregon already has a large transient problem, and as Liberty Nation recently reported, one homeless woman said it’s easy to live in Portland because the state gives them everything for free, attracting even more displaced people to the area.
Dem States With Similar Programs
The Beaver State isn’t the only blue region to spearhead free fund programs. In Palm Springs, CA, transgender residents can receive UBI of up to $900 a month simply for identifying as such. After a unanimous vote by the city council, $200,000 will be set aside for the pilot program.
In New York, 2,400 artists received payments of $1,000 over 18 months, the Outsider reported, 100 mothers collected $1,000 a month for three years, and 175 low-income families accepted $500 monthly payments to last for a year.
Phoenix, AZ, provides money for families who are struggling, up to $1,000 per month. Qualified recipients could not earn more than 80% of the area’s median. And in Georgia, two different UBI programs were offered. One gave 650 black women $850 a month for two years, and the other gave Atlanta residents $500 a month for one year. Oregon, however, is the first to include homeless in its free money giveaway program. If approved, SB603 will begin in 2026.
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