CA launches guaranteed income program for former foster youth
Monday, November 13, 2023
About 300 young adults leaving foster care in California will now receive a monthly check to help them make ends meet, part of the state's first guaranteed income program.
Some 150 people in Ventura will receive $1,000 a month and another 150 in San Francisco will receive $1,200 dollars a month, with no strings attached.
Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, who wrote the bill to launch the program, said "paternalistic" programs restricting the aid to cover only food or rent have not worked in the past.
"People in poverty need to be empowered, just like the rest of us, to make their own decisions," Cortese contended. "It really should be up to them to decide whether they need food, a warm coat, or rent. These aren't decisions that the state should be making, these are decisions that individuals should be making."
Opponents worry people receiving unrestricted income could waste it on luxuries, but post-analysis of pilot programs in Stockton and Santa Clara County disprove the concern. While the effort is the first statewide universal basic income program, there are also about 200 local programs now operating across California.
Cortese argued such programs reduce homelessness and end up saving the state money in the long run.
"We have significant economic disparity issues in this state," Cortese pointed out. "This gets the kind of outcomes that we're looking for in terms of giving people a leg up and keeping them out of the systems that cost us a lot of money; incarceration, like mental health and so forth."
Cortese hopes to secure funding next year for a similar proposal, called the California Success, Opportunity, and Academic Resilience or "SOAR" program, which would give a five-month stipend to the 15,000 homeless children who exit California high schools each year.
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