The Mission:

To put an end to homelessness in Kern County through collaborative planning and action.

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For information: Homelessness Resources Administrative Assistant Jessica M. Janssen (661) 834-1580 or Jessica.F@uwkern.org. 

 


KCHC 2015 HOMELESSNESS CENSUS


2015 Homelessness Census
2/27/2015

KERN COUNTY HOMELESS COLLABORATIVE ANNOUNCES ANNUAL 2015 HOMELESSNESS CENSUS RESULTS

BAKERSFIELD, CA: The Kern County Homeless Collaborative (KCHC) is pleased to announce the results of the annual 2015 Homelessness Census for the intention of keeping the community informed about the work of ending homelessness; for strategic planning, community development, and local and federal governments.

The 24 hour Census was conducted Thursday, January 22, through Friday, January 23. The KCHC has organized a full countywide Census of sheltered and unsheltered homeless first biennially in 2007 and 2009; and then annually since 2013. READ THE FULL REPORT

953 individuals were determined to be homeless in 2015; reflecting a 4% decline from 2014, and a 38% decrease since 2007 [according to the HUD definition of homelessness]. Interviews were conducted with more than 1,500 people who each received a hygiene kit, a snack and a pair of clean socks. Teams of trained surveyors spread out across the county, at shelters and on the streets. More than 200 individual volunteers and agency staff (representing more than 30 agencies) participated, made this the largest pool of Census workers to date.

Homelessness is down 38% and 41% for single adults since that first effort. “We have made tremendous strides since the process began in 2007,” said United Way Homelessness Project Manager Christine Lollar. Chronic homelessness has declined 63% since peaking in 2011; and 43% since 2013. Lollar added “We still have some work ahead of us and we aren’t going to stop until there are no families, veterans, or individuals in the county experiencing homelessness. It is still a crisis, and it is still unacceptable.”

The length of time people remain homeless is an average of 29 months. In shelters, people are remaining homeless for a shorter amount of time, averaging 17 months. It’s clear, even through the process of this Census, that when people go to a shelter as a source of help – as the beginning path to housing - the average length of time an individual is homeless drops substantially. Case management (before and after housing) is crucial and a part of that period of time. Work is conducted such as increasing household finances, job development and training, helping people to become healthier, enrolled in school, etc. “This is not an overnight fix, and as with any poverty circumstances, there are often lifelong cycles involved that case managers and other experts in the field help people work through,” Lollar said.

Nearly half of Kern’s homeless reported having substance abuse issues and 10% live with a chronic illness. What’s crucial to understand is the number of those individuals who remain unsheltered. For instance 20% report having a mental health condition and 42% have substance abuse issues. Distressing is that almost 60% of each of those population groups remain unsheltered, Lollar explained.

“When we hear there were 150 children were homeless right here in our county, that is 150 too many. One child is too many!” Lollar declared. 89% were located in Bakersfield and 11 children were living unsheltered on the streets.

In anticipation of a rural homelessness increase, the Collaborative’s 24 members had already expanded its rural networking and outreach over the past year. Individuals migrating outside of Bakersfield and the mere size of the county makes fighting homelessness a challenge. Key to success are the residents of rural areas. The Collaborative encourages rural communities to work with available agencies in their area and to reach out to specialized agencies that may be located in Bakersfield. “This is a county problem and we see the greatest results when we find community solutions together,” Lollar said. “No one knows their own neighborhoods more than the people who live there. We really are reliant upon citizen input, communication and partnership to bring change,” she added.

Community members who would like to hear about the work of ending homelessness are invited to call the United Way of Kern County who administers the KCHC. Presentations are available to businesses and civic groups. Lollar said “We are willing to have as many community conversation as is needed. An educated community is an involved community and we are successful when we work together.” To participate in ending homelessness through volunteering, making a financial gift, or giving an in-kind gently used household item, residents are invited to visit the website: www.kernhomeless.org; email Christine.L@UWKern.org or call 661-834-2734.

NOTE: This Census only reflects the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defined homeless population. When evaluating the whole picture of homelessness in Kern County the Collaborative recommends also taking into consideration individuals who meet the definitions of homelessness for the US Department of Education (The McKinney Vento Act) and the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The KCHC is designated as the Continuum of Care (CoC) for Kern County. There are more than 8,500 CoCs across the US who are regional planning bodies coordinating services and housing funds for families and individuals who are homeless. HUD is the largest funder of the CoC efforts in the sum of more than $3.75 million for the 2015-2016 year. HUD requires CoCs to conduct a Census every two years. However, due to the crucial nature of our Central Valley location, local leaders have determined it beneficial to conduct the Census annually.

 

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