Santa Clara County guaranteed income program gives $1,000 a month to homeless high school seniors

Beth Torres

The stress of senior year just got a little bit easier for some Santa Clara County high school students. The Board of Supervisors has agreed to launch a pilot program that would give $1,000 a month in guaranteed income to homeless students in their senior high school year.

Starting in April 2023 and running through August 2023, homeless students that qualify for the program will receive the $1,000 monthly payments. Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) initially proposed the structure for this program as part of SB 1341— the California Success, Opportunity, and Academic Resilience (CalSOAR) Guaranteed Income Program.

The goal of the program is to help homeless youth transition from their last year of high school into the workforce, higher education, trade schools, or apprenticeship training opportunities. According to Cortese, the implementation of this guaranteed income program means that Santa Clara County will be “the first county in the state to refuse to graduate high school seniors into homelessness."

In recognition of the importance of providing homeless youth with additional assistance, Santa Clara County approved a Basic Income Pilot program in June 2020. This program also provided homeless youth with $1,000 a month “no-strings attached” stipends.

What is the need for this guaranteed income program for Santa Clara homeless students?

Senator Cortese says the direct cash assistance is critical to assist students who are transitioning from the foster care system into young adulthood. Statistics show that young people who age out of the foster care system often face hardships—including poverty and homelessness—as they lose their support systems and benefits when they turn 18.

The National Foster Youth Institute reports that after aging out of the U.S. foster care system at the age of 18, twenty percent of the young adults will instantly become homeless. Only about 50 percent of foster children who age out will be gainfully employed at the age of 24. Of those girls who aged out of the foster care system, 70 percent of them are pregnant before turning 21. Children who age out of foster care have a less than three percent chance of earning a college degree.

What do you think about Santa Clara’s guaranteed income program to help homeless high school students?

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Interested in learning more about guaranteed income programs? Then read my article about an Illinois program that is giving some residents a total of $6,000 in guaranteed income.

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