NewsKern's Homeless Crisis


Bakersfield High School student excels while battling homelessness

Requan Feltus
Posted at 11:31 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 02:31:32-05

Kern's Homeless Crisis can impact those young and old. One local teacher is now working beyond the classroom to help one of her students, but she's also asking for the community's support. 23ABC's Lezla Gooden shows us the effort to help one senior student finish his high school education.

"If I give up now what will my kids think of me? How are my kids going to see me? I don't want my kids to think of me as a quitter when I could have done something. And that's what's been pushing me this whole time is to not think of the what-ifs and just do it."

This is how 17-year-old Requan Feltus feels when thinking of the future. He is a senior at Bakersfield High School. He faced technical issues with remote learning but it was his work that caught his history teacher Claudia Ocampo's eye for how good it was according to her. When they eventually did get connected, she learned more about his living situation.

"It was more along the lines of 'I am probably not going to see you guys for a while because my mother and I are going to be homeless soon and we are going to probably be sleeping in a park.' When I heard this is something I have to check further into," said Ocampo.

And that's what she did.

After verifying that Feltus was indeed on the verge of being homeless, she worked to change his outlook on his circumstance. She helped beyond the classroom by posting on social media and emailing anyone who could offer assistance and donations. Within a few days, she was able to raise enough donations to pay for three weeks in advance for them to remain in the hotel.

"I just hope that in the future we get more housing opportunities, more houses built and better houses most importantly because there is a nationwide housing crisis that's kind of flying under the radar that no one is really thinking about looking at," said Feltus.

The senior shares that this past year they have sought assistance through different agencies including the Housing Authority but were told there was a 6 to 9-month waiting list. Because Feltus' mother was employed it would, unfortunately, take longer.

"His mom is a health care provider, she is a CNA and she works the graveyard shift and from what I know their car broke down and she walks to her shift every night. And that's not ok. No health care provider in this country especially right now should be struggling so much."

Ocampo says they are not giving up and they already have heard from Congressman Kevin McCarthy's office who has been helping to connect them. Although they are seeing progress nothing has been set in stone yet. Feltus has already made plans to pursue his dream of becoming an automotive technician.

"There is this trade school in Laramie, Wyoming called Wyotech. I already enrolled. I have already done my FAFSA. I just need to make up the tuition now. But most importantly I just want to go out there and learn something that I know I will love to do."

"This kid is an awesome student and he is just going to do great things. I know it. Just by the way he talks about his future career goals and the way he sees education. None of that stops him. His situation does not stop him from his goals," said Ocampo.