San José’s Bill Wilson Center announced a new guaranteed income program for San José City College Students to help address the statewide issue of youth homelessness. A recent California Community College system survey showed that nearly half of SJCC students have experienced housing, food, or transportation insecurity in the past year.
“Many students I have worked with, over the past decades, have had to stop out because they have experienced this crisis in meeting their basic needs,” said SJCC President Dr. Rowena Tomaneng. “That is why guaranteed income is such a big first step. We will be able to offer up to fifty students $1,000 monthly stipends for a minimum period of 18 months.”
The Bill Wilson Drop-in Center announced the guaranteed income program during a news conference on Monday highlighting National Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month and the Solidarity Journey. The Journey was a 550-mile seven-day walk that began at the YMCA in San Diego on Nov. 1 by advocates who aimed to meet with the governor in Sacramento to discuss youth homelessness. San José was one of the stops on the march.
“I am delighted about our partnership with the Bill Wilson Center,” said SJCC Dean of Academic Success and Student Equity Dr. René Alvarez. “We are taking proactive steps to empower students by addressing their basic needs, all while working tirelessly to reduce the challenges of homelessness that many of them experience. This collaboration underscores our commitment to ensuring that every student has the support they need to succeed and thrive.”
Based on a national survey, it is estimated that 200,000 California youth under the age of 18, and thousands more of 18–24-year-olds, are homeless for one or more days during a year, according to the California Coalition for Youth.
“California community colleges are committed to meeting the basic needs of our students,” said SJCC Director of Student Development and Activities Blake Balajadia. “But we can’t do it alone. So, the collaboration with the Bill Wilson Center and other community partners is a shining example of how SJCC is developing strong relationships within our community to benefit our students.”
In addition to the guaranteed income program, which will launch before the end of the year, the Bill Wilson Center highlighted its Rapid Rehousing program operated in partnership with San José State University.
“We have the highest per capita youth homelessness in the country. So clearly, it is a crisis that our young people are facing. And these are people that we want to prevent from falling into chronic homelessness, which is much more expensive and much more difficult – physically, mentally, and emotionally,” said Josh Selo, the CEO of the Bill Wilson Center.