The idea of a universal basic income was once a fringe policy — but now, the United States has taken on a few forms of it on both the federal and local levels. Consider the Child Tax Credit, a type of basic income for parents that gave them hundreds of dollars a month to weather part of the COVID-19 crisis. Other, smaller cities like Stockton, California have done their own versions of the program to great effect. Research shows it helps people thrive, cover life’s basic costs, hold down better-paying jobs, and spend more time with their children. Now, California is looking to pass a state bill that would give a basic monthly income of $1,000 to seniors in high school who experience homelessness. Here’s what you need to know.
According to Los Angeles Times, Senator Dave Cortese, a Democrat from San Jose, has proposed Senate Bill 1341 which will be “a monthly, no-strings-attached check to eligible students for five months, from April of a student’s senior year until August.” The idea behind the bill is to provide support to “disrupt the cycle of homelessness at this age group,” Cortese said.
The legislation is a “revamp” of a bill, per Los Angeles Times, that was previously proposed by Cortese which aimed to give $500 a month to college students who come from low-income families and are attending some California State University campuses. The idea was scrapped when lawmakers realized the monthly payment would be deducted from any student financial aid.
The new proposed bill would provide funding for 15,000 students, which is approximately the same number of students who faced homelessness in the 2020-21 school year. Lawmakers project that the state would spend around $85 million annually to fund the monthly checks.
The bill also notes that individuals will be allowed to decide how the monthly stipend is spent. However, it’s “intended to assist recent high school graduates with housing, transitioning to college or vocational training, or applying for jobs.”
This new proposed legislation follows other cities and counties in California that have trialed basic income for low-income residents. Stockton, as previously mentioned, was the first in the state to give $500 to some of its residents for two years beginning in 2019, resulting in an increase in employment, financial wellbeing, and an overall decrease in stress.
Since, as the Los Angeles Times points out, several other cities have followed suit including Los Angeles County, Compton, and Long Beach, all of which have seen good gains in terms of reducing poverty and homelessness rates.
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