Berkeley, the quintessential sanctuary city in the United States is looking to launch its own ICO as a means of raising funds to support community development projects like affordable housing.
With considerable reductions in federal funding and the mounting problem of homeless people in the city, Berkeley is turning to cryptocurrency as a way of fulfilling its mandate to the residents of the city.
Berkeley, which is noted for one of the epicenters of liberal California hopes that other cities will follow in its lead in the wake of the current political and socio-economic landscape of the Trump-era United States.
The “Initial Community Offering” (ICO) is the result of a collaborative effort between city councilman Ben Bartlett, city mayor Jesse Arreguín, the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, and an online municipal finance group Neighborly. The Berkeley ICO, unlike other ICOs, will issue tokens that are backed up by real assets.
According to Kiran Jain who is the COO of Neighborly, the coins will represent municipal bonds that will be issued in lieu of affordable housing projects within the city. This will replace the current paper municipal bond instrument that is seen as being too complicated and requiring too many stakeholders to facilitate the process.
The ICO transfers the bond issuance framework to a blockchain and the corresponding digitization process simplifies the process considerably as well as making it more cost-effective.
The ICO is expected to commence in the spring of 2018 pending the granting of the necessary approvals. An affirmative vote from the city council hasn’t been obtained yet and according to Bartlett, he has no qualms handing the project over to private corporations if the council doesn’t back the move.
Speaking on the development Ben Bartlett said that the move was necessary due to the “terrific needs” of the city. He went on further to say the city is exploring new ways of financing itself in order to fulfill its “moral and legal obligations” to its residents.
Bartlett who is critical of the Trump administration and its tax policies said that the federal government was dividing the country along racial and gender lines through its fiscal policies. He described the move as a creative approach designed to combat the negative effects of shrinking federal support.
The immigration policies of the Trump administration have left the city of Berkeley with a proverbial target on its back. As a sanctuary city, a safe haven is provided under the law for undocumented immigrants as well as refugees within the city.
With the continued crackdown on illegal immigration, the city faces a dilemma of complying with the government or strengthening its own policies. Each choice has its own far-reaching consequences and ramifications. So far, the city has elected to do the latter and this has drawn the ire of Washington.
In February 2017, President Trump threatened to withdraw federal funding for UC Berkeley after students of the school protested after a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a noted conservative provocateur was canceled.
Feature image by vanillashake