Direct cash transfers can lift people out of homelessness

“The Pulse” @ Vancouver Co-Op Radio, CRFO 100.5 FM, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter and broadcast in the October 30th, 2020, edition of Folk U Radio.

How can society help folks experiencing homelessness? A new study based in the Lower Mainland shows that one of the solutions can be simple—just give folks direct cash transfers.

Claire Williams, CEO of Foundations for Social Change – submitted photo

Direct cash transfers work

Foundations for Social Change, a Vancouver-based organisation, worked with UBC researchers to examine whether direct, unconditional, and one-time cash transfers could help lift people out of homelessness. The study found that research participants who had received cash transfers were able to, on average, move into stable housing faster, achieve greater food security, and increase spending on clothes, food, and rent. The study also found that cash recipients reduced their spending on alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs by 39 per cent on average.

Stereotype wasn’t true

“[Stereotypes] are incredibly harmful to the people we are trying to work shoulder-to-shoulder with in community to better their lives,” said Claire Williams, CEO of Foundations for Social Change.

“A lot of social policy is built around these broken stereotypes…we make the burden of proof for folks to get on any kind of support incredibly high because we default to this thinking that they are trying to cheat the system.”

It “isn’t true”, said Williams, that policy makers know better than the people experiencing poverty what support is most needed.

The study

In this research study, cash recipients were given $7,500 with conditions placed on spending. To be eligible for the study, participants had to be recently homeless and not be experiencing addiction or mental-health issues.

Foundations for Social Change plans to expand its research project with 200 more cash transfers in 2021 to 2023.

Links of interest:

Top photo credit: Cash – Roy L Hales photo

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