BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Bakersfield-Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative today released its 2020 Point in Time Count Report, identifying 1,580 homeless persons living in Kern County.
The 2020 PIT Count was conducted during a 12-hour period on January 23-24.
The 2020 PIT Count displays a 19% increase from the 1,330 homeless persons identified during the 2019 PIT Count.
"The number of unsheltered people in Metro Bakersfield grew by 31 percent ... that is extraordinary," City Council Member Andrea Gonzales said, while highlighting the measures both city and county officials have taken to address the yearly increase, which includes the recent installments of two shelters.
Countywide, 36.5% of homeless persons had shelter, while 63.5% were unsheltered, sleeping in parks, empty buildings, cars and other places not meant for human habitation.
Families with children accounted for 14% of Kern County’s homeless population, with children constituting almost 9% of the homeless population.
Among families with children, 85% had shelter.
According to Carlos Baldovinos, CEO of the Mission at Kern County, the impact of COVID-19 on family incomes, may also cause an influx in homelessness.
"These numbers that we have before us can mean absolutely nothing, can be completely different in the days ahead," following the pandemic Baldovinos said.
The 2020 PIT Count observed a decrease in the number of veterans experiencing homelessness.
“The 2020 PIT Count shows addressing homelessness remains one of the most pressing issues facing our community,” said Anna Laven, Ed.D., executive director of the Bakersfield-Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative. “We must continue our collective efforts to provide wrap around services and find permanent housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, until everyone living in Kern County has a place to call home.”
Numbers of unsheltered homeless persons continue to drive the increase in Kern County’s homeless population.
“Shelter provides stability,” said Deborah Johnson, president and CEO of the California Veterans Assistance Foundation and Chair of the BKRHC Governing Board. “Stability is key to improving the effectiveness of additional services like mental health, recovery services, access to benefits and workforce development. It is critical that we increase access to shelter and affordable housing in order to put an end to homelessness in our communities,” she continued.
Across BKRHC membership, 562 additional beds are projected to be available by the end of 2020.
The full 2020 Point in Time Count Report is available on the BKRHC website.