BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Over 400 volunteers will be roaming the streets of Kern County Wednesday morning for the annual "Point in Time" Count.
“The reason for this homeless census, number one it’s tied to federal and state funding and number two it gives us a really good idea of what’s happening locally with homelessness," said Jessica Janssen with United Way Kern County. "We are able to identify trends in certain populations, an increase or decrease and that helps us adjust our programs and funding to meet the needs."
In 2018, they counted 885 homeless people, a 9% increase from 2017.
“We saw a 13% increase in homeless youth between the ages of 18 and 24," said Janssen. "We also saw an 11% decrease in veterans who are experiencing homelessness. So with that, we know that we need to focus on our youth, but we were also able to see that our veteran programs are working.”
Volunteers are expected to cover over 8,000 square-miles of Kern County from 4-8 a.m.
They are also expected to see an increase, due to the increase in volunteers.
“This year we have doubled the amount of volunteers who will be talking and surveying those who are living un-sheltered, so we anticipate an increase because we’re going to have a lot more volunteers out on the streets who will be able to find and speak to people," said Janssen.
Jessica says it is too late to sign up as a volunteer for the count, but organizations, like The Mission do need volunteers for other events throughout the year.
She also adds that the official numbers from the count will be put together by early Spring.