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.

1 minute read

February 14, 2018, 10:00 AM PST

By Elana Eden

Berkeley Hills Bay Area

eakkarat rangram / Shutterstock

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.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 in Business Insider

stack of books

Planetizen’s Top Planning Books of 2023

The world is changing, and planning with it.

November 24, 2023 - Planetizen Team

Close-up of 'Red Line Subway Entry' sign with Braille below and train logo above text in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Red Line Extension Could Transform the South Side

The city’s transit agency is undertaking its biggest expansion ever to finally bring rail to the South Side.

November 24, 2023 - The Architect's Newspaper

Diagram of visibility at urban intersection.

How ‘Daylighting’ Intersections Can Save Lives

Eliminating visual obstructions can make intersections safer for all users.

November 27, 2023 - Strong Towns

Green painted bike lane protected by rown of parking.

Oklahoma City Begins Work on Parking-Protected Bike Lane

The project is part of the city’s broader plan to improve bike and pedestrian infrastructure and road safety.

28 minutes ago - The Oklahoman

Blurred dense crowd of people with no recognizable faces walking in a busy city.

How Cities Can Avoid Perpetuating Segregation

Residents of big cities, known as the ‘melting pots’ of America, have fewer interactions with people outside their socioeconomic group than those in smaller communities, according to new research.

1 hour ago - Stanford News

Rows of solar panels on a large rooftop with office or industrial buildings in background.

US Building Emissions are Growing

Green building standards and efficiency retrofits are not keeping up with energy demand, resulting in a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.

2 hours ago - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

"Rethinking Commuter Rail" podcast & Intercity Bus E-News

Chaddick Institute at DePaul University

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.