Researchers gave thousands of dollars to homeless people. The results defined stereotypes.


This study, titled “The New Leaf Project”, is an initiative of the Foundation for Social Change, a Vancouver-based charitable organization in partnership with the University of British Columbia.

Researchers recently gave a lump sum of 7,500 Canadian dollars (about $ 5,700) to 50 homeless people. They followed the lives of cash recipients over 12–18 months and compared their results to a control group who did not receive payment.

Preliminary findings, which will be peer reviewed next year, suggest that people who received cash were, on average, able to find increasingly stable housing. In comparison, those who did not receive cash were left behind by about 12 months in securing more permanent housing..

People who received cash were able to use the food they needed to live. faster. About 70% did it after one month, and maintained food security throughout the year.

Recipients spent more on food, clothing and rent, while there was a 39% decrease in spending on items such as alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs.

“The homeless population continues to grow and we apply the same old approach,” said Claire Williams, CEO and co-founder of the Foundation for Social Change.

“We really think it’s important to start a meaningful risk-taking test in the name of social change,” Viraliams said.

The randomized controlled trial had 115 participants aged between 19 and 64, and they had been homeless for an average of 6 months. Participants were screened for mental health challenges and low risk of substance abuse.

The grant for this initiative came from a grant from the federal government of Canada, and from donors and foundations in the country.

“Proceeding on your terms”

“One of the most striking things is that most of the people receiving the cash knew immediately what they wanted to do with that money, and it just flies in the face of stereotypes,” Williams told CNN.

For example, he explained to some cash recipients that they knew they wanted to use the money to go to housing, or to invest in transportation – getting a bike, or taking their car to a repair shop so they could Keep your job. Others wanted to buy computers. Many of them wanted to start their own small businesses.

“People are very aware of what they need, but we often don’t equip them with interventions or services that really empower them with choice and dignity, and move forward on their own terms,” ​​Williams said.

Not a ‘silver bullet’, but a useful tool for many people

Direct cash transfers are not “a silver bullet for the homeless in general”, and the program focuses on “a high functioning subset of the homeless population”, Williams said, but believes research suggests That recently made people are provided with meaningful support reduces the likelihood of the homeless becoming trapped in the experience.

Those who had the benefit of cash were also able to set aside some money – about 1,000 Canadian dollars on average through 12 months.

The funds provided by the program also had “trickle down effects”, according to Williams, helping people invest more in the well-being and needs of their children, as well as helping family members.

“These are hidden effects that we don’t anticipate right now and don’t necessarily amount to, but now we’re seeing that it’s having an impact on people’s lives,” Williams explained.

The study shows that there are advantages for the taxpayer as well.

According to the research, reducing the number of nights spent in shelters by 50 study participants saved about 8,100 Canadian dollars per person per year, or about 405,000 Canadian dollars a year for all 50 participants.

“There is a common misconception that the cost of doing nothing is free or inexpensive and it is not at all,” Williams said.

Homeless and epidemic

The risk of homelessness is huge for many people across the United States, as people deal with the job losses and economic uncertainty brought on by the coronovirus epidemic.

“We’re hearing from homeless providers in a lot of places, people who have never been homeless before are coming to shelters and have no idea what to do,” Steve Berg, vice president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness A US non-profit organization, told CNN.

“This is a new experience for him,” said Berg, who was involved in the study of The New Leaf Project, and he never even dreamed that when he would talk about homeless people, they would talk about themselves. ”

Innovative solutions to the issue are under even greater pressure. Berg believes that research confirms what is true for many people experiencing homelessness: money can solve it.

“There are certainly people who are homeless, who have deeper, more serious problems,” Berg explained, “but for many people, it’s just one thing – they ran out of money, lost jobs, hard.” Fall in time, become homeless, once they are homeless, it is very difficult to save enough money to find a place to live. ”

“People can be confident that if they have problems with money, they themselves take care of the problem,” Berg said.

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