Mercury News: A new California bill could provide cash to homeless high school seniors

Student homelessness has risen to pre-pandemic levels, after years of decline. Now, a San Jose legislator has introduced a California bill to provide unhoused high school seniors with a guaranteed income to help them enroll in college or enter the workforce.

recent data analysis from the Public Policy Institute of California found that after three years of declines, the number of K-12 students experiencing homelessness in the state increased for the 2022-23 school year, with at least 246,000 students having experienced homelessness at some point.

To combat the impact on those students, State Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) introduced SB 333 in early 2023. Under the proposed statewide guaranteed income pilot program – California Success, Opportunity and Academic Resilience (SOAR) –  nearly 15,000 high school seniors experiencing homelessness will receive direct cash assistance.

Cortese said the bill will help overcome a system that often acts as a “conveyor belt” from child to adult homelessness.

“The minute they hand you that diploma, all of your federal benefits end,” Cortese said. “For every other non-homeless student, this is a day of total joy and celebration…These students – they have no home to go to.”

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