Guaranteed Income for Homeless Youth Program Moves Forward in Santa Clara County

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an item authored by Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg to move forward the framework proposed in Senator Dave Cortese’s (D-San Jose) SB 1341 as a pilot program to serve unhoused students in Santa Clara County through guaranteed income.

As stated in their agenda item, this program will support unhoused high school seniors make their transition to two- or four-year colleges, trade schools, apprenticeship programs, or work opportunities through “no-strings-attached” monthly payments of about $1,000.

This makes Santa Clara County the first county in the state to refuse to graduate high school seniors into homelessness,” says Senator Cortese. “I am grateful to Supervisor Ellenberg for carrying this movement forward and our Board of Supervisors for leading with vision by supporting our students through this critical transition period.”

SB 1341, the California Success, Opportunity, and Academic Resilience (CalSOAR) Guaranteed Income Program, was introduced by Senator Cortese to provide guaranteed direct cash assistance to homeless youth in grade 12 – to combat what’s known as the “summer melt”, so that students can exit poverty and have access to a higher education. 

In 2020, Senator Cortese led the creation of Santa Clara County’s universal basic income program to serve transition age foster youth.

Guaranteed income is a vehicle for economic, racial and gender justice,” said Supervisor and Board Vice President Susan Ellenberg. “Setting up disadvantaged young adults for long-term success will bring new opportunities for self-determination, choice and goal-setting that would not otherwise be available." 

According to Census Data (DataQuest), there were approximately 15,000 students experiencing homelessness who were enrolled in the 12th grade in California during the 2020-21 academic year. Experts report that a majority of these youth aspire to attend post-secondary education and an overwhelming majority (over 90%) wish to pursue careers that require some form of postsecondary education.