The uptick in Kern County’s homeless population has garnered a lot of questions, concerns, and even rumors since the increase was announced earlier this year.
When an issue that’s improving elsewhere in the country, but getting worse here at home, it’s natural to want to know why and seek an explanation. But experts say it seems some in the community are taking fiction as fact.
This morning, Louis Gill went to the Board of Supervisors meeting hoping to clear something up: “There’s concern,. It’s just really a myth, that people are being sent to us from other counties. It’s just not what we have found”, said Gill, head of the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter.
This comes a few months after the results of the 2017 homeless count came in, showing a 9% increase from 2016 to 2017 in Kern’s homelessness, and a whopping 46% increase within Bakersfield city limits.
“I don’t know doubt that people are on Amtrak and Greyhound, but we cannot find a mass program that’s shipping people to us” said Gill.
We can vouch for the prevalence of these rumors, as just this morning we got a detailed anonymous letter describing about 50 homeless people from orange county getting dropped off in Bakersfield about 10 days ago.
The letter gave a date, and said the homeless were each given $200 and put on a chartered Orange Belt bus that dropped them off at Riverview Park, with false promises of housing and care.
We chased the tip down, from the bus company, to parks and rec, to the homeless community living in Riverview Park-we couldn’t find anyone who could verify the detailed account.
However the letter mentions the recent federal order for Orange County to relocate hundreds of homeless citizens living in camps along the Santa Ana River, and that is true. But officials here hadn’t heard of this specific rumor until we called today, and as of now there’s nothing to support it.