Cash Payments to Homeless Adults

Back in 2018, the Vancouver-based Foundations for Social Change (FSC) began an initiative in conjunction with the University of British Columbia to make one-time payments of CAD7,500 (around $5,600 U.S.) to 50 homeless adults and compared their situation 12 months later with a control group of 65 homeless people who did not receive a payment.

Claire Williams, FSC CEO, said the results of the study were “beautifully surprising” and could defy assumptions that homeless people cannot be trusted to manage money, challenging stereotypes about how to help people living in the margins. Their 2020 Taking Bold Action on Homelessness report argues that direct cash transfers to the homeless provides “choice, control and purchasing power at a critical time in people’s lives…preventing people from becoming entrenched as homeless…”

According to the report, those who received the cash spent fewer days homeless compared to those who did not, and also moved out of homelessness faster over the 12 months of the study. The study also showed a 39 percent reduction of spending on goods like alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs by those who received the payment. In fact, cash recipients had even saved roughly CAD1,000 by the end of the 12 months.