BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Kern County’s homeless population has doubled since last year. While no one knows all the reasons the numbers are increasing, one local man says he knows one. He, himself is only 60 days away from landing on the streets.
Howard Shumsky lived in his studio apartment for over 12 years. Two months ago, his landlord told him he needed to go. Now Shumsky is worried he doesn’t have any place to go but the streets.
Howard Shumsky, 51, in a small studio apartment on Myrtle Street. It’s just him and his two cats in the roughly 250 square foot unit.
“No family at all, I moved to California and thought ‘time to make it new’ and, I’ve been doing good,” said Shumsky. “I consider myself good.”
The apartment is small, crowded and dilapidated.
“No door in the bathroom, no door in the shower,” said Shumsky. “Every once in a while I’ll go without hot water because there’s one water heater for upstairs and downstairs. It’s a little noisy sometimes because the people upstairs don’t have carpet, but other than that I’m paying my due, it’s good.”
He doesn’t like to complain, he says. Shumsky has been living in the unit since 2008 and pays $305 for rent. That is until September when he got a 60-day notice of termination of tenancy.
“It shocked me and scared me,” said Shumsky. “I can’t go on the street. I do not handle cold weather or hot weather.
Shumsky suffers from multiple sclerosis, a disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord.
He can no longer walk, relies on medication and his only source of income comes from social security.
“[I get] $923 a month,” said Shumsky.
The latest numbers from Real Estate Brokerage ASU commercial say the average single-bedroom apartment in Bakersfield rents for about $800 per month, nowhere near Shumsky’s budget.
Shumsky isn’t alone, according to the Census, 21 percent of people in our county live below the poverty line.
The worst part rental prices continue to rise, almost 4 percent this year according to ASU causing those not doing so well economically to suffer.
“I cannot go to the streets, I got a notice from my neurologist that says I’m signing up to my death if I go on the street,” said Shumsky.
Shumsky was scheduled to move out November 4, but thanks to senator Shannon Grove’s office, he received a 60-day extension.
“Oftentimes, government bureaucracy gets in the way of Californians receiving the assistance they deserve. I am so proud of my constituent services director who went above and beyond to help Mr. Shumsky. Our office secured an extension for his lease and rallied the assistance of several county agencies and businesses. It is rewarding to witness how passion and diligence can provide hope to some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield).