BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -
There are still more than 100 homeless veterans in Kern County and the number of homeless veterans with families is on the rise.
That’s why the California Veterans Assistance Foundation is excited about a new housing program funded by HUD.
Deborah Johnson, President of the California Veterans Assistance Foundation, told 23 ABC the “Rally Point Project” is a permanent supportive housing program that will provide housing for local disabled and low-income veterans.
“What we have is going to be 10 unites for low-income disabled veterans and families.”
The ten apartments are all in the Bakersfield area and are ready for veterans to move in, but they are not furnished.
“A lot of the funding takes care of paying for rent, but what the veterans are really going to need is to make sure when they move into this environment they have beds to sleep in. They also need a kitchen table and chairs, as well as a couch, chair to sit on and little things like food,” explained Johnson.
Moving into an empty apartment can be overwhelming, but some local low-income veterans told 23 ABC they’re just grateful to have a roof over their heads.
“When you come out of a sleeping bag underneath a bridge you don't feel real. Then you have to go and stand in line and take a shower with 12 other guys. I now feel normal and I can take a shower when i want to and eat when I want to and I love it,” said low-income veteran Robert Barker.
Barker is a U.S. Army veteran. He served in Germany from 1970-1973. He used to be homeless and is now pinching pennies to stay afloat.
"I don't make more than $1,000 a month and it makes it really rough. I mean without the community's support and help there's no way I could afford to be off the streets."
But, Barker wasn’t always homeless. Medical problems forced him out of his job as a truck driver and on the streets.
“I went right into poverty level. “
Barker and other low-income veterans say the programs CVAF offers helps them survive and get back into society.
“It gives you a hand up instead of a hand out. You know it brings back a little dignity to what you've lost,” said Barker.
“It means life you know I got to get into society because I was homeless for so long,” said low-income Earl Rolfson.
Johnson told 23 ABC in order to qualify the veteran must be homeless, disabled and meet certain median income guidelines.
The CVAF is also asking for the community’s support and welcomes all types of donations. All monetary donations are tax-deductible. Funds will help with rent, utilities, food and other household items.
The CVAF also needs microwaves, three refrigerators, kitchen items, cleaning supplies, living room furniture such as couches, tables, tv stands, lamps and small dining room sets. All apartments also need bedroom furniture.
To donate you can go to www.cavaf.org or stop by the office at 1400 Easton Drive Suite #102 Bakersfield, CA 93309.