The Mission:

To put an end to homelessness in Kern County through collaborative planning and action.

In This Section

For information: Homelessness Resources Administrative Assistant Jessica M. Janssen (661) 834-1580 or Jessica.F@uwkern.org. 

 


About the KERN COUNTY HOMELESS COLLABORATIVE


We are ending homelessness by working with partners and residents towards community solutions.
8/21/2015

WHO IS THE KCHC?

Kern County Homeless Collaborative Members are a caring group of nonprofit, faith-based and business agencies, government and community organizations, and individuals (including people who were or are homeless).

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  • Serving individuals and families who are homeless – No one would ask a plumber to set our child’s broken arm; the medical experts are the solution. Homelessness service providers are the available experts in the field of helping avoid and solve homelessness for Kern County individuals and families.
  • Membership – Being a Member has never meant so much! $500 annual dues support the work of ending homelessness and result in peer support of the collective work; gives access to the Homelessness data base; and provides an opportunity to submit grants and to work together on homelessness initiatives; and so much more.
  • Outreach – Direct service outreach events provide on the spot access to services for people who are homeless or at-risk at events held at shelters or day centers. Community Caring outreach opportunities take place at locations on the streets where needs are determined to be urgent (i.e. Tent City, Heritage Park, etc.).
  • Advocacy – As one voice, the Collaborative advocates with federal, state and local elected officials; philanthropic entities; and the public at large – striving for the best solution for those challenged with homelessness.
  • Peer Support – More than 25 Members work together to develop strategies and solutions via a Coordinated Entry and Assessment Plan. A Quick Referral Tool helps community partners quickly refer people to Members. Together Members connect and strategize to end homelessness in Kern County.  WE CAN and WE ARE!
  • Continuum of Care (CoC) – The KCHC is one of nearly 9,000 CoC’s across the U.S. who submit one, regional application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Kern’s CoC funding provides almost $4m dollars annually through 22 grants to 11 Members. Funds provide housing and supportive programs i.e. case management (before and after housing); medical, mental health and legal services; benefit acquisition and financial literacy; employment and educational opportunities and so much more!
  • Homelessness Census – The annual census is a survey of all people who are homeless on a single night each January, by more than 200 volunteers across Kern’s 8,150 sq. mile county.  The effort defines needs, challenges and trends amongst the homeless population and determines any needed adaptations of services.

If you or someone you know are homeless, we may be able to help. If YOU want to help, your partnership is needed here! For more information, presentations can be scheduled with small groups, families, civic organizations, faith based agencies, classrooms etc.

 

NEW INTERACTIVE WEBSITE COMING SOON: ENDKERNHOMELESSNESS.ORG

Kern County Homelessness Census – January 2015: 953 people were counted as being homeless in the 2015 Homelessness Census (living in places uninhabitable by humans i.e. park, car, alleys, abandoned buildings) – a decrease of 38% since 2007.

  • 730 were single adults, a decline of 41% since 2007.
  • 164 people were chronically homeless (having a disability and were continuously homeless for a year or more with at least four times in the past three years) – down 63% since 2011 when chronic homelessness was at its peak in Kern.
  • 150 were children, a decrease of 22% since 2007. 97 families were homeless, a decline of 7% since 2007.
  • 89 veterans were homeless, down 34% when nearly half of the unsheltered population was made up of veterans in 2013.

 

The Myths of Homelessness…

  • “People who are homeless should just get a job” - Across the nation 45% of people who are homeless are employed. In Bakersfield’s [former] Tent City more than 30% of residents were employed (migrant workers, Cal State student, roofer, secretary, and handyman).
  • “People are homeless because of mental illness or drugs” - Of adults who are homeless in Kern 22% identify as having a mental health illness. Studies show that most mental health challenges were gained after becoming homeless, due to attributing constant factors of: lack of sleep, fear, crime, PTSD, and more. Half of the adults counted in the Homeless Census had substance abuse issues, and 87% those adults were receiving treatment.
  • “Some people choose to be homeless” - No one grows up aspiring to be homeless. The truth is that after trying to navigate through bureaucratic systems and/or cycles of poverty (frequently hereditary), people often give up and lose the ability to envision what it means to live in a home once again.

A “Myths of Homelessness” presentation and staff are available to present to schools, civic groups, employers, nonprofits, faith based agencies and others.

Please contact the Director of Homelessness Resources, 661-834-2734.

Why are People Homeless? The main reasons for homelessness in the U.S. are: lack of affordable housing, unemployment and poverty. They lose hope. The average US minimum wage worker would need to work 60 to 174 hours weekly to afford a two bedroom rental unit. For youth, age 24 and under, homelessness is usually attributed to family discord around the topics of gender, religion and sexual orientation. Kern has only one single family shelter, usually full to capacity.

How YOU Can Help – If each of us does a little, big change can happen! All gifts to (monetary or in-kind) are tax deductible and stay right here in Kern County.

  • In-Kind Items – Household items are needed to house people, i.e. linens, pot, pans, furniture, and especially refrigerators! To donate large gently used or new items please contact us for pick up; or drop off items to 5405 Stockdale 200.
  • Monetary Support – Donations towards ending homelessness are tremendously needed to fill the gap of funding when designated grant dollars fall short. Donate at: www.KernHomeless.org
  • Share– Sharing the myths and realities about homelessness breaks the chain of misinformation and even prejudices. When we can come together as a community solutions come more swiftly and only together can we build and gain trust.
  • Smile – People who are homeless often feel invisible. It’s sometimes easier to look the other way than face a sad situation. Take the time to smile when you cross paths with someone who is homeless.

Did You Know? In 2013 the United Nations place a finding against the U.S. for criminalizing homelessness and its lack of providing basic human necessities such as food, shelter, and a place to use the bathroom; punishing people for sleeping in public and even those who feed them. This continues to be monitored to this day – yet, in many places the criminalization of homelessness continues.

United Way of Kern County is the “home” of the KCHC providing administrative, fiscal, grant and homeless initiative application support via the Director of Homelessness Resources. United Way staff supports service providers; is the community liaison to the partners, media and public officials; and advocates and educates within the community about the myths, realities and challenges of people who are homeless in Kern.

KERN COUNTY HOMELESS COLLABORATIVE at UNITED WAY OF KERN COUNTY FISCAL AGENT  / COLLABORATIVE APPLICANT

5405 Stockdale Highway 200   |   Bakersfield CA 93309     |   www.KernHomeless.org

Christine Lollar, Director of Homelessness Resources   |   661 834 2734   |   661 834 2952 FAX  

Christine.L@UWKern.org  |  www.Facebook.com/KernCountyHomelessCollaborative  |  Twitter @KernHomeless

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