A head count of the homeless using shelters in Bakersfield starts Wednesday night. The results of the homeless survey may weigh heavily in the amount of non-profit dollars dedicated to serving our city's transient population.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires this annual count of people using local shelters. The count also gives the shelters and the non-profits that support them, an idea of the people who are in need.
Inside the Bakersfield Rescue Mission Tuesday night, all of the beds had been claimed by people looking for a warm night stay. One of them belonged to Kyle Turney who is seven months into the mission's one-year residential program.
"Looking back that was the best choice I ever made, and it wasn't as humiliating as it seems," explained Turney. "It was actually a great choice, a great opportunity in life."
Turney will be among those counted in Wednesday night's annual countywide shelter count. The numbers will give HUD a better understanding of the scope of the problem and if more federal dollars are needed at the Mission and other shelters.
"The census can can give us a better gauge of the needs that are out there and how we can adjust our services here at the mission to accommodate those needs," said Tim Calahan with the Bakersfield Rescue Mission.
Calahan says they are seeing more young adults struggling with addiction and war veterans just looking for some help. And, at the 174-bed Bakersfield Homeless Center, they are seeing more children.
"On any given night we sleep more children than adults. So we'll usually sleep somewhere between 80 and 100 children every night," explained Louis Gill, Executive Director, Bakersfield Homeless Center.
The shelters report more people are looking for food too, not choosing to stay for reasons of their own, but still coming for something to eat.
The count takes about four hours. The final results of the shelter census should be completed by next week.