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A California Bill Would Provide Homeless High School Seniors With a Guaranteed monthly stipend of $1,000.

A California Bill Would Provide Homeless High School Seniors With a Guaranteed monthly stipend of $1,000.
A new measure would provide direct cash help to graduating homeless high school seniors. MYKOLA SOSIUKIN (Photo: The Getty / Stockphoto collection)

Under a new bill introduced by Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), thousands of homeless high school grads would get $1,000 each month for five months from California Bill (SB 333). The California Bill would establish a trial program for a guaranteed income known as SOAR, or “Success, Opportunity, and Academic Resilience.” All 12th-grade homeless students who are “without a fixed, regular, and suitable nightly dwelling” are eligible. They would get the cash payments directly from April through August of 2024. 

$1,000 for Homeless High School Seniors %sep% California Bill

A new state measure would provide homeless high school students with $1,000 each month for five months, from April to August of their senior year. A pupil from an L.A. Unified school is shown above. (Photo via Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The measure is a revision of an earlier california bill sponsored by Cortese that aimed to provide $500 per month to low-income college students attending certain California State University campuses. However, lawmakers abandoned the plan when they realized that the monthly payments would have been taken from any separate student aid. SB 1341 passed the Senate floor in May and is currently being evaluated by the human services and higher education committees of the Assembly.

The california bill would provide sufficient financing for 15,000 students, the number of public high school seniors who were homeless during the 2020-21 school year, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act as lacking “a fixed, regular, and adequate nightly dwelling.” Many of these youngsters reside with other families, in shelters, motels, or in public locations. According to the California Department of Education, more than 183,000 kindergarten through twelfth-grade pupils in all public schools in the state were homeless during the 2016–17 school year are capable to be under the california bill.

Black and Latino kids were overrepresented; according to state data, Black students make up 5% of statewide enrollment but 7% of homeless students, while Latinos made up 74% of homeless students despite making up 55% of the total student population. White students, who make up 22% of the total enrollment in the state, accounted for around 10% of homeless students. Legislators estimate that the state would spend approximately $85 million per year to support the monthly payments, the amount fluctuating with the number of homeless children. 

The monthly stipends are designed to aid recent high school graduates with housing, transitioning to college or vocational training, and job searching, but the measure permits individuals to chose how they spend the monies. Cortese stated, “This is both the most radical and the most effective application of guaranteed income we’ve seen in the previous few years as it’s gotten more common.” In terms of outcomes, the combination of empowerment and absence of prescriptiveness has been extremely effective. After the city of Stockton began providing some of its working-class people $500 for two years beginning in 2019, a research revealed that the recipients’ employment increased by 12 percentage points.

Since then, other towns and counties in the state have followed suit, including Los Angeles County, which provides $1,000 annually for three years to some low-income households. Compton began giving checks to certain of its citizens in late 2020, while Long Beach is near to offering $500 per month to some single-parent homes in the city’s worst district. Statewide, pregnant women and individuals who age out of foster care may qualify for a guaranteed income paid by the state.

According to the california bill’s (SB333) proponents, homeless youth confront larger financial impediments to higher education, a crucial method of overcoming poverty and establishing financial stability. Some students may have every intention of attending college but never enroll owing to financial constraints. Teri Olle, California campaign director for the Economic Security Project, an organization dedicated to funding and researching guaranteed income systems, stated, “They have goals and dreams.” They want to begin their planned life, but there are so many barriers in their path, such as relocating for school or paying the last month’s rent. In 2019, the city of Stockton completed the nation’s first direct cash aid pilot program, with many proponents hailing the results as a significant success. The 130 adult volunteers received $500 per month for 18 months and were free to do with the funds as they pleased. After one year, researchers discovered that not only were individuals more likely to be employed, but they were also healthier, happier, and better able to endure unexpected expenses.

Cortese’s latest campaign is a continuation of his 2022 push to enact a similar california bill. In 2020, the former Santa Clara County Supervisor helped construct the first-of-its-kind basic income pilot program for transition-aged foster adolescents, which in 2021 became the first state-funded guaranteed income pilot program in California Bill.


Read More: How to Apply for 2023 California Inflation Relief Funds.

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