Couch's Corner - March 5, 2020
One way to help the homeless
March 5, 2020 | View PDF
On Wednesday, Feb. 26, I joined work crews from the Bakersfield Homeless Center and Caltrans as we kicked off a program that was initiated in the District 4 office and will serve the entire county well, especially all the communities of the district.
This program is the litter abatement program on state highways in the county, utilizing the homeless and homeless-vulnerable workers employed through the county’s contract we just signed this week with the Bakersfield Homeless Center.
When we try to solve the problem of homelessness, we have to understand that one important component, perhaps the most important component, is that for a person experiencing homelessness to truly get back on their feet, those that can work eventually have to start working again. This “jobs” component of the solution is the one that costs the least, gives a sense of self-worth to the recipient and accomplishes a tangible benefit.
This program is not new, as the City of Bakersfield has been doing it for some time, but it is new to the county. It has already helped many folks from Bakersfield out of homelessness, and as your District 4 supervisor, I intend to see it help in our rural communities as well. And the beauty of this program is that while we are helping our homeless population get out of homelessness, we are beautifying our communities as well.
The program is starting small, with one crew of six workers to be assigned to clean up state routes five days a week, but expect it to grow, as the state, the county and the general public will likely find additional dollars and additional projects for a program like this, where the return on investment is so great.
I’d say using the same tax dollar to get important community work performed while at the same time getting people out of homelessness is a great way to utilize our limited resources.
We all have wondered to ourselves, when we see a homeless person on the street, how we can help. We’ve wondered if we give that person money, how will they use that money? With a wrap-around navigation center funded with private contributions from you in the community with a heart to give, we can increase our jobs programs, we can ensure the surrounding community is clean and safe, and we can help our homeless population get back on their feet.
To the other remaining communities in District 4, you are next. I urge you to join the Homeless Collaborative’s Rural Subcommittee as they find solutions in your communities. Already, I see folks from Wasco there and have spoken with folks from Lamont and Arvin about initiating steps in their communities.
Want to know more about how you might be part of this solution? Contact the district at 661-868-3680 or email us [email protected]
David Couch is Kern County supervisor, covering District 4, which covers the Shafter and Wasco areas.