Researchers at the Center for Homelessness, Housing, and Health Equity Research at the University of Southern California have published an interim report on the first six months of a randomized controlled study to examine the effects of a basic income and social assistance intervention for 103 homeless individuals in Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Two key findings so far are that participants in the Miracle Money study, who received $750 per month, were less likely to remain homeless compared to participants who accessed the usual homeless services, and were better able to meet all their basic needs.
The Miracle Money study is conducted by the nonprofit organization Miracle Messages, which supports people affected by homelessness in rebuilding their social support systems and financial security. It is an expansion of a previous informal pilot program by Miracle Messages that successfully helped participants exit homelessness and meet their basic needs.
Under the leadership of Ben Henwood, Frances L. and Albert G. Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health at USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and Director of the Center for Homelessness, Housing, and Health Equity Research, the year-long Miracle Money study was designed to determine whether the results of the previous pilot program would hold for a significantly larger sample size compared to a control group.
One of the goals is to scientifically investigate the impact of reducing financial and relational poverty on the creation of long-term solutions for homelessness. People have different needs and we empower them to focus on what individually helps them,“ said Ben Henwood, Frances L. and Albert G. Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health at USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
Ben Henwood, Frances L. and Albert G. Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health at USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
The report provides a breakdown of the results of the six-month follow-up with the first 69 Miracle Money participants receiving monthly income, including how they spent the money received, and a statistically significant change in the proportion of time they spent homeless in the past month, decreasing from 30% at the start of the trial to less than 12% halfway through the trial. It also compares the well-being of participants who received at least six monthly payments with that of 86 individuals in the control group who accessed other homeless services.
„Poverty is poverty, but relational poverty is also poverty,“ said Kevin F. Adler, founder and CEO of Miracle Messages. „A unique aspect of Miracle Money is that it not only focuses on addressing financial insecurity through the monthly payments, but also on the lack of connection and ‚otherness‘ that people affected by homelessness often face, making it even more difficult to exit homelessness.“
Miracle Money participants receiving guaranteed income payments are paired with a volunteer „phone buddy“ from the community who provides social support through weekly phone calls and text messages. This part of the study allows for the investigation of various physical and social factors related to the experience of homelessness and housing insecurity.
The Miracle Money study is funded by Google.org, the USC Homeless Policy Research Institute, Scott Layne and Kimberly Lynch, as well as many other generous individuals and foundations. Learn more about the Miracle Money program.
University of Southern California