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New push in California to provide relief to homeless high school graduates

New push in California to provide relief to homeless high school graduates
New push in California to provide relief to homeless high school graduates 02:03

SACRAMENTO - There are more than a quarter-million homeless kids in California classrooms, and each year, 15,000 of them lose financial support when they graduate high school.

Now, there's a new push at the California State Capitol to give them cash and help keep them off the streets.

Salma Pacheco knows just how hard it is to live as a teen without stable housing.

"It is very stressful," she said. "You also have to kind of figure out how to figure it out by yourself."

One of the biggest struggles is right after graduating from high school when homeless teens lose a lot of structure in their lives.

"I did get a lot of support while I was in high school, fortunately, but I didn't have any support once I graduated," Pacheco said. "That's the period that's absolutely devastating for the young people."

Now, California lawmakers are considering new ways to help. A bill at the Capitol would give $1,000 a month to teens who are homeless once they graduate from high school.

"It's a heck of a lot cheaper where these students are graduating from high school, instead of graduating them into continued homelessness, intercept them right there, get them to land on their feet," said California State Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose).

The guaranteed income would last for five months, giving the grads a brief financial cushion before getting a job or qualifying for college financial aid.

"It's really meant to grasp this young adult population right at the end of K-12 and hopefully into higher education or into finding employment," said Sarah Bouabibsa, advocacy manager with Young Invincibles.

So what could the unrestricted monthly cash be spent on?

"We're worried about survival. We're worried about basic needs," Pacheco said.

"A lot of this money is spent on just day-to-day expenses whether that be food, sometimes it's spent on rent, help finding a roommate," Bouabibsa said.

Supporters see it as a lifeline for disadvantaged young adults looking to lead better lives.

"They also deserve an opportunity to succeed in life and this guaranteed income funding would give them that opportunity," Bouabibsa said.

The bill, SB-333, unanimously passed the education committee hearing Wednesday and, if signed by the governor, would take effect in 2025. 

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