The 2013 Kern County Point-in-Time Homeless Count (Homeless Census) conducted by the Kern County Homeless Collaborative revealed that, on any given night of the year, there are 1,158 local men, women and children living in homelessness.
The Homeless Collaborative is proud that this demonstrates a 20% reduction in overall homelessness between the 2011 Census (1,439 counted) and the 2013 Census. Nevertheless 1,158 homeless persons is still 1,158 too many if we want to stay true to our mission: "To put an end to homelessness in Kern County through collaborative planning and action."
- About three-quarters of Kern's homeless are male and one-quarter are female.
- About 87% (1,005) are adults; 13% (153) are children.
- About 12% (135) are veterans.
- About 57% (568) of adults counted said they abuse substances, with 30% (301) reporting alcohol abuse, and close to 20% (195) reporting meth use.
- About 87% (1,008) of all homeless are found in the Metropolitan Bakersfield area; about 13% (150) are found in rural communities.
- 52% (605) of all homeless in Kern are living without shelter; 48% (553) are living in an emergency shelter or in transitional housing.
- About 48% (486) of all homeless persons in Metro Bakersfield are living without shelter; about 52% (522) are living in an emergency shelter or in transitional housing. One reason why there are more sheltered than unsheltered homeless persons in Bakersfield might be because it has a much greater concentration of services for the homeless than do the rural areas. In fact, the only two full-service emergency homeless shelters in Kern County's 8,200 square miles are within a mile of each other in Metro Bakersfield.
- In contrast, about 79% (119) of rural homeless are living without shelter, whereas only about 21% (31) are living in an emergency shelter or in transitional housing. But because the only type of emergency shelters and transitional housing facilities available outside of Metro Bakersfield are for domestic violence victims and their children, it is safe to say that all homeless men counted in rural areas of Kern County in 2013 are living without shelter.
For additional local homeless statistics based on the 2013 Homeless Census, as well as past Point-in-Time Homeless Counts, click here.
For other online resources on homelessness, click here, then scroll down to "Other Websites/Online Resources."
Homelessness can happen to anyone. In Kern County, homelessness happens because of...
Since 2007, Kern’s unemployment rate has been in the double digits. It was at 12.9% at the end of 2012, and has consistently remained 2-5% higher than the state unemployment rate, and 4-8% higher than the national rate. (U.S. Census Bureau; California Employment Development Department; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Close to 37,000 local properties have gone into foreclosure since January 2007. That is 85% in excess of the 20,000 that foreclosed in the previous 12 years (1995 - 2006) combined. (Kern County Assessor’s Office)
- One out of every four families with children in Kern County lived below the poverty line toward the end of the last decade. (Kern County Network for Children)
- Poor education = Poverty. In Kern in 2009, 29% of adults 25 and older did not have a high school diploma—that is much higher than California’s rate of 19%. (US Census Bureau)
- In the first decade of the 21st century, the number of students participating in the free or reduced meal program in Kern County increased by 33%. (California Department of Education)
- According to the Food Research and Action Center's "Food Hardship in America 2012 Report," Bakersfield is the most challenged metropolitan statistical area for food hardship in the nation.
Our state is particularly affected by homelessness.
California has the highest concentration of homeless persons in the United States: close to 21% of all homeless in the country. And yet, the state’s total population is just 12% of the nation’s population. (HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report; US Census Bureau)
Why should we care about homelessness in Bakersfield and Kern County?
Because, in many ways, homeless people made this region what it is today. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath depicts the plight of homeless Dust Bowl migrants in the 1930’s, who settled here and changed Kern’s cultural landscape through their music, religion and values.
Because on any given night, there are between 1,100 and 1,200 homeless persons living in Kern County—and even one homeless person is one too many. No one in our midst should ever have to be homeless.
Because the unhealthy conditions associated with homelessness can shorten a person's life by 25 years—a mortality rate on par with cancer, according to the 100,000 Homes Campaign.
Because, as President Theodore Roosevelt said, “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in, unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”
Homelessness among women often happens because of…
Domestic Violence and Financial Hardship
- When a woman leaves an abusive relationship, she often has nowhere to go.
- A 2003 nationwide survey of homeless mothers found that one-fourth had been physically abused in the last year. (National Coalition for the Homeless)
- Reduced financial resources as a result of divorce or spousal abandonment are also major causes of homelessness among women.
- Single women with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in America.
Homelessness among veterans is often due to…
Disabling Conditions and a Lack of Support Networks such as:
- Mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression;
- Wounds suffered in war, such as traumatic brain injury or loss of limbs;
- Drug and alcohol abuse;
- Lack of family and social support; and
- Lack of services available for dishonorably discharged vets.
Won’t you help us end homelessness in Kern County?
Donate to or Volunteer with the Kern County Homeless Collaborative to make a difference in our community. Check out our Calendar Section and join us at one of our various committee meetings. For more information, contact the Homelessness Project Manager at (661) 834-2734 or Louis.M@uwkern.org.