Four of the 12 most vulnerable homeless found on the streets of Bakersfield by the Kern County Homeless Collaborative last month moved into their new homes today.
Joe, Christine, David and Carlos, who will be neighbors sharing a courtyard (and even a swimming pool!) were welcomed into their one-bedroom apartments by their respective case managers and other Homeless Collaborative members with cake, plants, furniture, appliances, housewarming gifts, and “Welcome Home” signs.
Less than two weeks ago each one of them was living on the street, but from June 18 to 20, teams of volunteers and workers from social service agencies in partnership with the Homeless Collaborative went out looking for the most vulnerable local homeless as part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign to house the 100,000 most medically challenged homeless in America by July 2014.
The effort was called Home First 12, as it aimed to find and house the 12 most vulnerable homeless in Bakersfield in 2012. With the housing of Joe, Christine, David and Carlos, one-third of this mission has been accomplished.
“I have butterflies in my stomach. I am so excited. It’s hard to explain what I’m feeling,” Joe told Jan Lemucchi of KCHC member agency United Way of Kern County. He later enjoyed a relaxing moment in his comfortable reading chair and ottoman.
"I'm going to take a long shower and shave," said Dave, who was grateful for the brand-new bed he will be getting from Slagle's Mattress Factory--and also for his new television set.
The four ranked high for such risk factors as major medical/ mental health and substance abuse challenges on the Vulnerability Index (R), a scientifically designed survey that allowed the Homeless Collaborative to know which of those interviewed would be the most likely to die on the streets if they did not receive housing and supportive services.
Lemucchi said Christine told her she planned to spend all night unpacking and organizing the items in the move-in kit the Homeless Collaborative had made available for her.
Home First 12 is possible only because of generous donations from such major sponsors of the project as Bakersfield Mayor Harvey L. Hall and his company, Hall Ambulance; Kern County Fifth District Supervisor Karen Goh; Mercy & Memorial Hospitals; Kaiser Permanente; San Joaquin Community Hospital; the Bakersfield Jewish Community; United Way of Kern County; and the Housing Authority of the County of Kern, which made available the Housing Choice Vouchers that ensure affordable housing for life for program participants.
A total of 294 unsheltered homeless were interviewed by 80 volunteers in the Home First 12 effort. Even though the Homeless Collaborative does not have the resources to offer housing to all of them, these individuals now figure in a by-name registry that the Collaborative can use to stay in contact with them in order to link them to other life-changing services.
The Kern County Homeless Collaborative’s mission is: To put an end to homelessness in Kern County through collaborative planning and action. If you would like to support the Homeless Collaborative, please visit the Home Page on our website and click on “Donate” or “Volunteer.”