Scott Santens
Searls and Broncucia have been together for 12 years. Before they were selected for the Denver Basic Income Project, the couple experienced an eye-opening low point. Searls was in jail when Broncucia received her breast cancer diagnosis. He had warrants for drug possession and had been caught on camera breaking into a camper so that, he says, the two of them would have somewhere warm to sleep one night. While he was locked up, Broncucia was provided a room in a medical respite shelter as she prepared for surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Searls was able to stay with her as her caregiver once he was released but they faced a mountain of challenges and uncertainty. “I had 10 weeks of chemo and then they had to give me a couple of months off then I had 15 rounds of radiation,” Broncucia said. “You have to go every day. At the time we didn’t have a car. We were taking the bus.” That’s when an advocate with the nonprofit dedicated to helping cancer patients suggested they sign up for the budding Denver Basic Income Project. They did and both were enrolled in the group that was granted $6,500 upfront and then $500 for 11 months. They used their lump payments to rent an apartment and buy a car. Their used Saab, which they call “God’s car,” helped Searls find work and carried Broncucia to medical appointments. The infusion of money ran parallel to the couple making another crucial decision: staying sober after years of meth use. “We came together and we’re like we’re not doing this anymore,” Searls said. “Whatever money that we got, we used it wisely. We used it for things we needed.” Broncucia used Denver Basic Income money for cold-therapy mittens and socks to stave off complications during chemo, maybe the first online purchase she had ever made. “You feel like you’re almost like a millionaire, you know?” she said.”You’ve got money to pull out of your pocket if you need to go get some socks.”
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