Homelessness jumps by 37 percent in Kern County

The Golden Empire is experiencing a soaring increase in homelessness, despite significant tax dollars committed to combatting the crisis.

Despite oodles of tax dollars being sent to combat the growing homelessness crisis, Kern County officials reported a significant increase in homelessness in the county compared to the previous year’s count.

Homelessness rose roughly 37 percent year-to-year, the count found.


The big picture: The new census of Kern County’s homeless population found almost 2,700 people living in shelters or on the streets, county-wide.

  • In total, 1,006 were staying in some kind of shelter, while 1,663 were unsheltered.
  • The Point-in-Time Count was conducted over four days in January, covering the county’s 8,100 square miles, to tally the transients.
  • Homelessness in Kern County has been a long-standing issue, with local agencies stepping up services such as providing mobile showers and toilets. However, the new report shows there has not been much progress on the crisis.
  • The increase in homelessness was most visible in Bakersfield, where the count showed a 36 percent increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness.

Go deeper: Homelessness affects different groups in different ways: Kern County’s homeless population is estimated to be 65 percent male, and 35 percent female. According to the report, 29 percent of the people counted were black, 52 percent were white and 22 percent were Hispanic.

  • The census also distinguishes between chronic homelessness and temporary homelessness. Out of the total number of people counted, approximately one-third were chronically homeless.
  • Officials are concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic may have further complicated the situation with more people at risk of experiencing homelessness.
  • Non-profit organizations like the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter say they have seen a surge in demand for their services in the wake of the pandemic.
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