“We put a lot of stock in the notion that if young people just invest in their futures, with education or a good job, that they can lift themselves from poverty. But for those who start from behind – the 15,000 graduating high school seniors experiencing homelessness – that is just not reality. At this pivotal moment in their lives, they have plans, hopes and dreams – they just need the support to achieve them. The data is telling us, the answer is direct cash support with no strings attached” said Teri Olle, California Campaign Director for Economic Security Project Action.
“California need not look far for examples of direct cash programs that work by giving people means and agency to address their own particular needs. The groundbreaking Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) project provided a guaranteed income monthly for 24 months, and last year’s Golden State Stimulus sent direct payments to millions of households to blunt the effects of the pandemic downturn. Both have worked. Participants in the SEED pilot reported higher employment, the ability to afford unexpected expenses like medical emergencies, less stress and more time with their families. Look at the federal expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) from the American Rescue Plan, which lifted 33% of California’s children from poverty: Giving people money just works. At a time when Californians are especially feeling the pain of higher housing costs, rising prices at the pump and increasing costs of food and basic needs, we need direct cash support more than ever. That’s why we at the Economic Security Project Action are proud to sponsor SB 1341 (Cortese), which would give the 15,000 graduating seniors who are experiencing homelessness a guaranteed income in the transition months between high school and postsecondary education or employment. Whether they need money for moving expenses, tuition, books, rent or food, this program would give these struggling students the resources they need to reach their goals and follow their dreams. California can do right by its young people, now is the time for our leaders to act.”