Davidson News

Davidson News

California’s $750 Monthly Stipend: Unveiling Spending Patterns as Proof of Universal Basic Income Success

For an entire year, approximately 100 homeless individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County, California, experienced a unique initiative—a $750 monthly stipend, provided without any questions asked. The recently released results of the first half of a comprehensive study conducted by the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the San Francisco nonprofit Miracle Messages shed light on the transformative effects of this social support intervention and basic income initiative.

Positive Outcomes Defy Stereotypes

The study’s findings challenge common stereotypes about the financial habits of homeless individuals. In comparison to a control group relying on standard homeless services, recipients of the $750 monthly stipend demonstrated remarkable improvements after six months. They reported being less likely to be unsheltered and expressed increased proximity to meeting their basic needs.

Spending Patterns Unveiled

Within the initial six months of the program, the study uncovered intriguing insights into the spending habits of those receiving the $750 stipend. Notably, 36.6% of the funds were allocated to food, emphasizing the immediate impact of addressing necessities. On average, participants reported spending 13.6% on unclassified expenses, 12.7% on transportation, 11.5% on clothing, 6.2% on healthcare, and nearly 20% on housing.

Dispelling Myths about Misuse

The Los Angeles Times quoted the study’s lead author, Ben Henwood, dispelling myths surrounding the use of financial assistance. Only about two percent of the $750 monthly stipend was spent on drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, with cigarettes accounting for the majority of that minimal expenditure. Henwood emphasized that these findings debunk the misconception that people will misuse money for illicit purposes.

Empowering Individual Needs

According to Henwood, the director of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work’s Center for Homelessness, Housing, and Health Equity Research, the study’s essence lies in empowering individuals to address their unique needs. The $750 stipend enabled recipients to focus on what would help them individually, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-determination.

Real Stories of Impact

Testimonials from stipend recipients added a human touch to the study, with one individual using the funds to catch up on bills and address an urgent auto repair. Another mentioned using a significant portion for “food on the go,” highlighting the practical and diverse applications of the financial support.

Tangible Reduction in Homelessness

The study reported a significant reduction in the percentage of recipients without shelter, decreasing from 30% at the trial’s onset to less than 12% at the six-month follow-up. In contrast, the control group, relying on standard homeless services, experienced a less substantial decline, with the percentage of homelessness dropping from 28% to 23%.

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