Homeless high school seniors possibly receive $1,000 per month if California passes basic income bill

Sen. Dave Cortese, a Democrat from San Jose, has introduced a new bill that would provide $1,000 per month for five months to thousands of homeless high school grads.

Income Pilot Program

The measure, SB 333, would establish the “Success, Opportunity, and Academic Resilience” (SOAR) guaranteed income pilot program.

The program would be open to all 12th graders who are homeless and “without a fixed, regular, and suitable nightly dwelling.” The direct cash payments would be made to them between April and August 2024.

According to a statement released by Cortese on Tuesday, “these funds, delivered with no-strings-attached, help students to meet basic requirements so they may take vital steps toward college or employment.” We need to stop letting 15,000 high school graduates become homeless each year.

Bill’s Proponents

The money, according to the bill’s proponents, will aid homeless high school seniors in bridging the gap between graduation and beginning their next chapter. For young people, the summer following graduation is a trying time as they lose access to important support services that schools offer, such food aid, housing, and school counselors.

According to the bill’s supporters, homeless youth suffer larger financial impediments to higher education, which is essential for escaping poverty and reaching financial security. Some kids may have every intention of attending college, but for financial reasons they never sign up.

They have aspirations, according to Teri Olle, California campaign director for the Economic Security Project, a group dedicated to supporting and researching systems that provide guaranteed income. They want to start living the life they’ve planned, but there are so many barriers in the way, such as moving away for school or paying the rent for the previous month.

In 2019, the city of Stockton ran the first direct cash aid trial program in the country, and many supporters hail the outcomes as a huge success. For 18 months, the 130 adult volunteers got $500 per month. They were free to use the funds whatever they pleased. Researchers discovered that after the first year, individuals had greater employment rates in addition to being happier, healthier, and better prepared to handle unforeseen costs.

Cash with no restrictions “simply works,” Olle added. It indicates that people are equipped to fulfill their own requirements.

The new attempt by Cortese builds on his failed attempt to enact a similar measure in 2022. The former Santa Clara County Supervisor participated in the development of a groundbreaking basic income pilot program for foster adolescents in transition in 2020, which was expanded in 2021 to become the state of California’s first guaranteed income pilot program.

The Department of Social Services gave funds totaling $25 million to seven various guaranteed income programs late last year. As part of the program, at least 1,975 Californians, mostly expectant women and foster children in their transitional years, received cash payments of up to $1,200.

The mechanics of how to distribute the funds to the qualified students are still being worked out by supporters of Cortese’s legislation. Olle emphasized that even the largest guaranteed income pilots in the nation are still rather tiny. 3,200 families participated in a recently completed initiative in the city of Los Angeles, while 3,250 households participated in a pilot in Cook County, Illinois.

The state and counties will need to build more pipelines for transferring money to lots of individuals in order for these initiatives to scale successfully. Olle is optimistic that direct monetary aid will offer homeless graduates the push they need to enter college or land their first full-time job, in spite of the operational hurdles.

Other Reports, Plans to Begin

Direct cash assistance monthly payments of $600 to $1,200 will be made to at least 1,975 Californians, including foster youth in transition and pregnant women, through seven guaranteed income pilot projects funded with more than $25 million in grants from the California Department of Social Services.

To assist foster youngsters in transition, Senator Cortese oversaw the development of Santa Clara County’s first universal basic income program in 2020.