Three months of $1,200 guaranteed income made possible through a $3-million state allocation

By Staff Report

Thanks to an innovative Santa Clara County pilot program, next summer 50 homeless young people graduating from high school will receive a monthly stipend of $1,200 a month for three months to help them transition into college or embark on a promising career.

The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program for Unhoused High School Students was made possible through a $3 million allocation initiated by State Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) in the State Budget Act of 2023. With the program, grant recipients will have access to various lines of support including financial mentors and peer mentors.

Cortese and Santa Clara County Board President Susan Ellenberg unveiled an innovative initiative July 7 with the hope it will provide vital support to homeless students and break the cycle of poverty by offering short-term monthly payments.

“The data being published nearly every week is painting a clear picture of who actually makes up our unhoused population,” Ellenberg said. “This rise in unhoused students, along with the rise in unhoused families in California — and yes, in Santa Clara County — is unacceptable. Guaranteed income pilots around the country are an obvious solution that works — they stabilize our community and support their efforts out of poverty. What are we waiting for?”

Recent reports show about 270,000 students across California’s K-12 school system experience homelessness, with the number having risen by 50 percent over the past decade. Among these students, around 15,000 are in their 12th grade, facing uncertain futures upon graduation. In Santa Clara County alone, an estimated 2,500 students are homeless.

“How can we, in good conscience, graduate all these young Californians into a life on the streets each year,” Cortese said. “This program is a guarantee of income, but it can also be a guarantee of upward mobility. This not only benefits the grant recipient, but eventually creates a legacy of prosperity for their children and future generations.”

Cortese emphasized the urgent need to prevent young Californians from graduating into lives on the streets. He believes the program not only provides financial security but also fosters upward mobility, benefiting grant recipients and future generations.

The program aligns with Cortese’s Senate Bill (SB) 333, known as the California Success, Opportunity, and Academic Resilience (CalSOAR) Guaranteed Income Program. If enacted, SB 333 will incorporate the learnings and best practices from the countywide pilot program.

While serving as a Santa Clara County Supervisor, Cortese spearheaded a successful guaranteed income program for foster children transitioning into adulthood. This program was subsequently expanded statewide through his SB 739.

The 2021-22 state budget included a historic investment of $35 million to launch the “California Guaranteed Income Pilot Program,” with the first grants awarded by the state’s Department of Social Services in November 2022.

Ellenberg is also spearheading a guaranteed income program for formerly-incarcerated people, which was unanimously supported by her board colleagues in May.

This story was written based on a press release.