The sanctuary city of Berkeley, California has declared their intent to launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to help fund affordable housing. The plan comes to light following fears that President Donald Trump will cut federal funding.
“Berkeley is the center of resistance, and for the resistance to work, it must have a coin,” said Ben Bartlett, member of the Berkeley City Council. He, along with Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin, the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, and fintech startup Neighborly, created the group that will move forward with the ICO launch.
For the COO and co-founder of Neighborly, Kiran Jain, their ICO is going to be more than just an initial coin offering, but rather will be an “initial community offering.” He explains, “Unlike most of the ICOs which deliver coins for a future value or service, these coins will represent a real security issued for a specific purpose.”
This purpose to find a way to help the increasing population of homeless people in the area, even without federal funding, should the President do good with his threats. It first came about when Trump tweeted: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” following student protests which led to the cancellation of a scheduled speech by conservative Milo Yiannopoulos. He has since been stepping up and closing in on his efforts against sanctuary cities.
For Bartlett, “We have a jobs explosion and a super tight housing crunch. You’re looking at a disaster. We thought we’d pull together the experts and find a way to finance [affordable housing] ourselves.” Part of the plan is for the tokens to be backed by municipal bonds, which are usually issued by governments in the event they need to raise funding. In this case, however, the securities will be in the form of digital assets, which could then be used by the buyers in shops, or even apartment rentals, using cryptocurrency as form of payment and transaction.
This is not the first time UC Berkeley has used crypto Blockchain technology for innovative purposes. In August of 2017, a PhD student posited how Blockchain analysis could be used to identify sex trafficking rings by following Bitcoin payments for online adult advertisements.