Live in This City? You May Not Have to Pay Rent

Photo (cc) by Dee Speed

What would happen if someone else paid your rent, no strings attached? How would you spend your time? Some people in Oakland, California, are about to find out.

Y Combinator — known for supporting early stage startup companies financially and otherwise — is hoping to answer such questions via its Basic Income Project.

Earlier this year, the Silicon Valley organization announced that it wanted to “fund a study on basic income — i.e., giving people enough money to live on with no strings attached.”

Y Combinator announced Tuesday that it has completed the step of hiring a researcher, Elizabeth Rhodes, to head up that study.

At Y Combinator, Rhodes will help design a “large, long-term study to answer a few key questions: How people’s happiness, well-being, and financial health are affected by basic income, as well as how people might spend their time.”

Y Combinator explains in a blog post:

In our pilot, the income will be unconditional; we’re going to give it to participants for the duration of the study, no matter what. People will be able to volunteer, work, not work, move to another country — anything. …

Y Combinator adds that participants will be “able to work and earn as much as they want” as part of the project. “We hope a minimum level of economic security will give people the freedom to pursue further education or training, find or create a better job, and plan for the future.”

Y Combinator expects to spend the next few months designing the pilot.

Oakland was chosen because of its proximity to Y Combinator and for its “great social and economic diversity,” which includes “both concentrated wealth and considerable inequality.”

Rhodes tells CNN Money:

“It’s a really exciting opportunity. It’s a new idea; it’s still somewhat obscure.”

How would you spend your time if someone covered your basic income needs? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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