NewsCovering Kern County

Actions

Home Safe Prevention Program helping seniors with shelter

Homeless
Posted at 10:08 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 02:26:50-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Many seniors in Kern County are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. That is why the Kern County Aging and Adult Services Department is excited a new $1.2 million state fund will allow them to continue running their Home Safe Prevention Program through at least 2021, keeping more seniors from living on the streets.

There are a host of reasons why someone may end up homeless. For this age group, that list of reasons just keeps getting longer.

According to the local organizations working with these folks, many seniors rely on benefits that are simply not enough for the rising cost of living. Others suffer from financial abuse or physical abuse that makes their living situations unsafe.

“As much as I would love to be able to say that our elderly, our seniors are not part of those experiencing homelessness, about 8% is what they would represent across the homeless situation here,” said Anna Laven, Executive Director, Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative.

Laven said the issue was brought to the forefront of local organizations at the onset of the pandemic due to the senior’s high risk to the virus.

“Putting together what we refer to as a by-name list, that way we better understand the unique needs of those who are elderly or seniors and so right now that list is about 150 folks long,” said Laven.

She added different organizations involved in helping the homeless population will then go through the list and figure out what these individuals need. But notes the best way to help mitigate this issue is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

That is where the Kern County Aging and Adult Services Department comes in.

“We would utilize this program to go out, assist those people and prevent them hopefully from becoming homeless. We had several really successful cases where we were able to prevent people from ending up on the streets. We got them into more safer housing environments and a safer environment overall,” said Jeremy Oliver the Program Director of Kern County Aging Adult Services.

Oliver said they get about 25 calls every month from people needing their services.

They provide emergency food, clothing, and help to find shelter, as well as investigate suspected abuse or neglect of elder and dependent adults among other services.

This new fund will not only keep the program afloat for much longer but also allow them to implement new strategies to expand their reach in the community.

“Really is it just that we see an impact that hopefully lessens the burden of people that are out there, homeless struggling,” said Oliver.

He added they also work with local law enforcement to address the neglect and abuse cases they see.

The Bakersfield Police Department said they had 11 elder abuse investigation cases in August and 10 in September.

Along with preventing homelessness among seniors, the Home Safe Program also helps adults 18 through 64 with mental disabilities that are at risk of homelessness due to some sort of abuse or neglect.

The department asks that if you know of anyone that is in this situation to let them know so they can step in.