Homeless census indicates drop in number of unsheltered adults and children

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A group released the results of a census of the homeless population in Kern County, showing a general reduction in people having to live on the streets.

The census revealed 1,002 adults and children were living in shelters and on the street. The Kern County Homeless Collaborative organized the point-in-time count in January. 

That figure shows a 13 percent decrease in the homeless unsheltered population.

The 24-hour count is a HUD-mandated activity that provides a snapshot of the local state of homelessness in Bakersfield, Delano and all of Kern County and ensures the continued flow of federal dollars into our community to provide for housing and other needs.

The Church Without Walls in Oildale praises the efforts of the Homeless Collaborative to fight homelessness, but says it's difficult to get accurate numbers.
 
"On average, we deal with about 65 homeless on a daily basis. However, that day we conducted the census only 35 were counted," said Ben Hanna.
 
Oildale continues to be an area where chronic homelessness is an ongoing issue. Many live on the river and choose not to be counted in the census.
 
"You can only count when people come. We were up five people this year compared to last year. But if they don't come and be counted, are they not homeless still?"

As far as accuracy, Hanna says its the best system we have, but won't be completely accurate until every person is counted. 

In recent years Kern County has received between $3 million and $5 million annually to help fight homelessness.

Sixty percent of those surveyed stated they had a substance abuse disorder with alcohol and meth rating highest as the drugs of choice.  Twenty-three percent stated they have a mental illness. 

The highest number of unsheltered homeless by area is as follows: Central Bakersfield 76, Oildale 71, Southeast Bakersfield 57, Delano 37, and Northeast Bakersfield 31. 

Veteran homelessness was reduced by 30% in the unsheltered veteran population while the number of sheltered veterans and those in transitional housing programs remained steady.

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