Santa Clara County will provide monthly stipends of $1,200 to some graduating high school seniors who are homeless, beginning next summer, officials announced.

The $3 million Guaranteed Income Pilot Program for Unhoused High School Students will provide payments for up to two years to 50 students exiting high school, said state Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Susan Ellenberg.

The program seeks to break the cycle of poverty by helping students transition into college or a career, Cortese said.

“If we don’t intercept this population as they’re walking across the stage with their diploma, I think we’re making a big mistake,” Cortese said. “It’s really the most appropriate time to intercept people at the point where we can help them the most before they enter into long-term homelessness.”

About 3,000 students across all grade levels in the county faced homelessness in the 2021-2022 school year, according to a county report.

“If we don’t intercept this population as they’re walking across the stage with their diploma, I think we’re making a big mistake.”

Sen. Dave Cortese

The program will receive $3 million in funding from the State Budget Act of 2023.

Cortese said he hopes Santa Clara’s program will serve as a model for the state and answer logistical questions, such as how to maintain confidentiality.

“Guaranteed income pilots around the country are an obvious solution that works — they stabilize our community and support their efforts out of poverty,” Ellenberg said.

Santa Clara County piloted another guaranteed income program in 2020 providing $1,000 monthly stipends for two years to foster children transitioning into adult life.

Stockton launched the first guaranteed income program in the state with stipends to low-income residents of $500 a month.

Participants got full-time employment at twice the rate of those who weren’t in the program, according to the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration.

Those receiving the money used it for basic needs like food (nearly 37 percent), sales and merchandise (21 percent), utilities (11 percent), and auto costs (10 percent).

Deidre Foley is an intern at Bay City News and an MA candidate at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, where she specializes in data journalism and health & science reporting. Previously she was managing editor for the San Francisco Foghorn and has bylines in the NYCity News Service, Byklner and the Nagazasshi. Deidre is interested in using data and visuals to tell social justice and human interest stories.