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New resources for the homeless in Arvin, Lamont

Posted at 6:29 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 01:21:42-04

ARVIN, Calif. (KERO) — It's sitting at tables where those who come in will be able to read a book or play board games, and the whole idea is to make meaningful connections. Not just at the center but with the community.

"I feel like our society has become numb to the homeless population and that should not be that way," said Lonnie Harris, shelter coordinator with Flood Ministries.

Harris knows this all too well.

"Seven months ago, I was homeless, addicted to drugs, living in my car, and I had to go to rehab and you know I have done a lot of work to get here."

His experience has now helped him connect with the homeless population in Arvin and Lamont, and it’s making a difference.

"He walked all the way here from Lamont. It stuck in somebody’s mind enough for them to walk seven miles, just to get a plate of food. Just to be somewhere safe."

That is one case, but because this is the only center in South Kern, they expect there to be more of these situations and that is why they created a solution.

"Bus pass, it says Arvin Navigation Center on it, with their picture on it, and whenever they have an appointment and want to get services. They will just show it to your bus driver and they are allowed to get transportation for free," explained Charlie Van de Voorde, the program manager at the Arvin Navigation Center.

Van de Voorde explains they operate Monday through Friday and while they were training staff last Thursday, they had already helped nine individuals. But that’s expected, as in the past two months they saw the number of homeless people in the area increase from 30 to over 100.

That’s why their main goal, besides providing food, and a place to cool down and do laundry, is to get them into permanent housing.

And Van de Voorde hopes it’s not just those who need the resources but also the community that stops by.

"Hear their story, connect with them, learn about them, and when we start doing that, we get a stronger sense of who they are and we get a stronger community."

Those who do need transportation to get to the Navigation Center located at 204 South Hill Street can call (661) 859-9157.