Homeless people hired by county for highway cleanup

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – A group of homeless people woke up bright and early Wednesday morning to start their first day of work alongside Highway 58. 

The new jobs are part of a new agreement between the county and the Bakersfield Homeless Center. 

“Doing this job is not my favorite, but it’s an easy job,” said Richard Kuhn, one of the employees. “It helps you out and not only that it cleans and helps our city.”

Through a new agreement between the county and the Bakersfield Homeless Center, 10 homeless people have been hired to clean up state highways in the county.

“I feel like I’m helping out and I’m helping out myself because I like being clean, I like having where I live to be clean,” said Kuhn.

Kuhn says he was on and off the streets for years. Getting employed by the Bakersfield Homeless Center’s Job Development Program has changed his life. 

“This job was able to help me get out of the homeless shelter and get my own place,” said Kuhn.

He’s been employed with the center for a year and a half. Kuhn is one of the over 80 homeless people working across our county with companies that contract with the homeless center. 

“The Monday morning feeling where you and I would wake up and say ‘Ugh we have to go to work’ versus the voice that I hear walking up the ramp in the morning, talking to their loved one saying ‘I have to go to work!’ is a completely different tone,” said Andrew Miles, labor development manager for the Bakersfield Homeless Center. “It’s believing in themselves because someone has believed in them.”

As far as this new litter removal contract goes, Caltrans is providing $25,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year and up to $125,000 in future years. Kern Council Of Governments is providing $50,000 program costs through June 30.

The county says they hope to open up more positions in the near future.

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