The state of Oregon is considering a bill to give the homeless and low-income earners $1,000 a month in universal basic income.
The bill, introduced last month, would establish a People’s Housing Assistance Fund demonstration program through the state’s Department of Human Services.
The $1,000 payments can be used at the discretion of the recipients.
According to Bill Track 50, the legislation would provide “twelve monthly payments of $1,000 to individuals who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, have a heavy rent burden, or earn at or below 60 percent of the median income in the area.”
“Payments may be used for rent, emergency expenses, food, child care, or other goods or services of the participant’s choice,” the bill reads.
Homeless tents on the sidewalk in Portland, Oregon (file photo)
Homelessness in Portland (file photo)
People who spend more than 50 percent of their monthly household income on rent, and those who earn 60 percent or less of the area’s median income, could also receive funding.
The bill requires a survey of those receiving the payments broken down by certain demographics, such as race, veteran status and risk of domestic violence.
The program would continue until January 2026, after which the study would have to be presented, the bill states.
Senate Bill 603 would allocate $25 million from the Oregon State General Fund to establish the People’s Housing Assistance Fund Demonstration Program, administered by the Department of Human Services, according to Katu, a Portland media outlet.
Senator Wlnsvey Campos or State Representative Khanh Pham are the sponsors of the proposed bill.
A similar program was implemented in Canada’s Vancouver BC in 2018, with homeless participants receiving $7,500 each.
UBI is already on the move in the US. Established in 1983, Alaska’s Permanent Dividend Fund sends annual payments, generally between $1,000 and $2,000, to more than 600,000 Alaska residents.
There have also been other UBI programs in states such as Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, and New Jersey.
Palm Springs, California plans to give universal basic income to transgender and non-binary residents.
Transgender residents are eligible for a UBI of up to $900 per month solely for identification as transgender or non-binary.
The new pilot program has $200,000 earmarked for allocation following a unanimous vote by the Palm Springs City Council earlier in 2022.
Portland currently has more than 700 homeless camps across the city
The city stated that the program is only for those who meet a poverty line.
“I’m on a low income and I have to say it’s very, very hard to make ends meet, especially on a very small budget,” said Charene Reavis, a resident of Florence, at a public hearing on the bill.
Reavis serves on the steering committee of Residents Organizing for Change, a group of organizations and residents dedicated to policy and housing solutions in Oregon.
“When I moved into a property I had to borrow money for my rent, security deposit and it took me almost a year to recover from everything I had to just move in,” she said.
Oregon has struggled with high levels of homelessness for years, especially in areas like Portland, where up to 700 tent camps have taken over parts of the city.
The state has also been trying to address increased drug use and trafficking after it passed a law decriminalizing street drugs last year.
The state’s health authority ruled the legislation “failed” just seven months after it went into effect.
A national report released in late 2022 showed that the number of people experiencing homelessness in the US has been relatively stable since 2016 despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The report also showed that the number of people sleeping on the street has increased in Oregon.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 582,462 people slept on the streets in one night in January 2022 – 0.3% more than in 2020.
Point-in-time counts are intended to provide a snapshot of who is sleeping on the street on any given night, and they are often considered an undercount.
In Oregon, there were 14,655 people, a 22.5% increase since 2020, according to federal data.