Group seeks volunteers to collect data on homeless in Kern County

Information gathered is used for funding programs

BAKERSFIELD - A local group that collects data about the homeless population in Kern County is noticing a change.  The trend of people living on the streets or using area shelters is slowly decreasing.

The Kern County Homeless Collaborative data every two years to secure federal dollars that funds programs helping people off the streets and back to work.

‘Point in time,’ is the count of the homeless staying in shelter and unsheltered locations in Kern County.  It’s a census-type survey asking demographic questions such as age, gender and reasons why so many are becoming homeless.

"In the case of veterans, they might be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.  In the case of people who are coming out of jail or prison, they might not have a strong support network or a place to go to, so you know in the recent economy a lot of people have become homeless because there have went into foreclosure," said Louis Medina with the Kern County Homeless Collaborative.

Leaders with the Kern County Homeless Collaborative plan to start collecting new data and will train about 150 volunteers on the proper way to get that information.

"Respecting somebody's personal space, if you're going to go and ask question of the homeless person that's sleeping in a tent, you don't go and open the tent because even though it’s a tent that's their home, the person’s home is their castle," he said.

Information collected in 2011, showed a four percent decrease in the homeless population.  Leaders with the group say funded programs are helping people like Alyson Bryan back on her feet.

"You're hopeless and you want someone to find you.  You're calling out for help, but you don't know how to call it out," she said.

Bryan is a former drug addicted who use to call the streets her home.  She struggled to find food and a place to shower every day.

“I started using at the age of 12," she said.

The data also shows about 1,500 people living on the street in Kern County, but with more funding based on the census information gathered that trend could change for the better.

"If you need help and you’re willing to make this choice in your life because no one can do it for you.  Here's your time to change," said Bryan.

If you’re interested in volunteering head to the Kern County Homeless Collaborative website: http://kernhomeless.org/

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