Though the formal research has yet to be published, the early results are staggering. Half of the cash recipients moved into stable housing one month after they received the money, compared to 25 percent of the control group. “That was phenomenal,” says Zhao.
Almost 70 percent of them were food secure in one month. Like Ray, they spent most of the money on the essentials — food, shelter, bills. On average, the cash recipients spent a total of three fewer months in a shelter than those in the control group, whose days spent homeless increased. After one year, cash recipients reduced their spending on alcohol, drugs and cigarettes by an average of almost 40 percent, challenging “the widespread misperception that people in poverty will misuse cash funds,” the report stated. At the end of the year-long study, participants had an average of $1,000 still left in the bank.