The Country's First Municipal Cryptocurrency Could Fund Affordable Housing

The city of Berkeley is exploring the sale of digital tokens—backed by municipal bonds—as a fundraising mechanism for affordable housing and other local priorities.
February 14, 2018, 10am PST | Elana Eden
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To fund affordable housing and homeless services, Berkeley, California is considering holding an initial coin offering (ICO), Melia Robinson reports in Business Insider—selling digital tokens that could be used as currency at local businesses.

"Buyers might spend these tokens at shops and restaurants or even pay rent at apartment rentals that participate in Berkeley's cryptocurrency ecosystem … Someday, homeless people might receive tokens to buy goods and services from local businesses that accept the currency, according to city leaders."

It's a tech-savvy twist on traditional fundraising: "The city of Berkeley is effectively leveraging the blockchain — the technology at the heart of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — to sell municipal bonds," Robinson explains. If adopted, the scheme would make Berkeley “the first city in the US to hold an initial coin offering."

Officials hope token sales will supplement a local budget due to shrink under the Trump administration, especially given specific threats to sanctuary cities. "For the resistance to work, it must have a coin," one councilmember told the paper.

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Published on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 in Business Insider
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