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The City of Berkeley, home to one of America’s liberal strongholds – Berkeley, University of California – is considering to launch its own initial coin offering (ICO), backed by municipal bonds, and registered on the blockchain.
The goal is to find funding for affordable housing for the growing number of homeless people in the city and to “build resiliency in the Trump era”. “Berkeley is the center of the resistance, and for the resistance to work, it must have a coin,” Berkeley City Council Member Ben Bartlett told Business Insider.
According to city statistics, in 2017 the number of homeless people in the city of 100 000 residents is 1000, up 17% from 2015 and a 43% increase from 2009. At the same time, the city is experiencing an employment boom and a housing crunch.
Bartlett, along with mayor Jesse Arreguin, inancial technology startup Neighborly, and the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab have set up a committee to form a strategy for the ICO, which it calls “initial community offering”. According to Neighborly’s co-founder Kiran Jain, the ICO can be launched by mid-May, if the necessary approvals are obtained.
Berkeley is the first self-proclaimed “sanctuary city” when in 1971 it passed a resolution protecting sailors resisting the Vietnam war. In 2017 it reaffirmed its sanctuary status, opening its doors to undocumented immigrants who are welcome to live and work in the city and using its social services, without being deported, questioned or bothered about their immigrant status.
As a sanctuary city, Berkeley has committed to not support, communicate with or submit to the demands of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, which, quite naturally, has drawn the ire of the US President Donald Trump. He has threatened to cut federal funding for sanctuary cities and has specifically targeted Berkeley. According to some estimates, if somehow Trump comes through on his threats, the city of Berkeley can lose around $500 million in government funding per year. And according to Bartlett, either way the affordable housing budget will shrink in the Trump era.