Berkeley, California, one of the centers of the counterculture movement in the 1960s and 70s, is considering launching an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to fund affordable housing after fears that President Donald Trump will cut their federal funding, Business Insider reports Wednesday, Feb. 7.
Ben Bartlett, a member of the Berkeley City Council, created a group working on the ICO launch with Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguín, the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, and fintech startup Neighborly. He sees a turn to crypto as a way for the city of Berkeley to resist the current presidential administration, telling Business Insider:
“Berkeley is the center of the resistance, and for the resistance to work, it must have a coin.”
Berkeley is a sanctuary city, meaning that it doesn’t cooperate with the federal government to enforce immigration law. The Trump administration has recently been escalating the fight against the existence of sanctuary cities as part of their immigration reform.
Last year, Trump had also tweeted a threat to pull federal funding from UC Berkeley, a university located in the city, after student protests led to the cancellation of conservative Milo Yiannopoulos’s scheduled speech:
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
The ICO could also be a way for the city to help the increasing homeless population, regardless of whether federal funding is ever cut. Bartlett said:
“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.”
The tokens would be backed by municipal bonds, which governments normally issue when they need to raise funding. However, in this case these securities would be digital assets that buyers could potentially spend in crypto-participating shops in the city or even for apartment rentals that would accept the token.
Kiran Jain, COO and co-founder of Neighborly, calls their ICO an “initial community offering,” because,
“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.”
UC Berkeley has previously come up with innovative uses of crypto Blockchain technology. In August 2017, a PhD student at the university released research on the possibility for Blockchain analysis to identify sex trafficking rings through Bitcoin payments for online adult advertisements.