BC Renegade Roundtable discusses homelessness at the Levan Center

Marina Gonzalez, Reporter

Bakersfield College faculty members discussed homelessness and explained how people can and help at the Levan Center on Feb. 19.

The BC faculty members were Neal Stanifer, Jack Hernandez, Erin Miller, Mike Harvath, and Steven Holmes.

With homelessness rising in Bakersfield and Los Angeles, California had an estimate of 151,278 people experiencing homeless in January 2019 and most of them became homeless due to losing a job or not being able to pay the rent for their living situation.

Marina Gonzalez
Mike Harvath, BC Economics professor, explaining the Seattle village housing and solutions to help house the homeless to the audience in the Levan Center on Feb. 19.

“You can’t live in a society, where 30% of your income is based on your living,” Holmes said.

The speakers shared several reasons why people have become homeless. They explained that a lot of people are working minimum wage jobs, which the national average is $7.25 per hour, and that 30% of a person’s income is based on rent. However, Bakersfield is currently working on building a homeless shelter that will fit more people, because most of the shelters are small and can’t fit all of those are homeless.

Seattle has used many small village houses to help house the homeless, but it has been a struggle for the homeless because the village houses cost $2,500 each.

“There is currently, in America, a tiny homes movement,” Harvath said. “What we need is to have different smaller options.”

Harvath suggested that Seattle should have different small villages for the people in different situations be grouped together and that the villages be moved into a different area, where there won’t be any complaints from neighbors.

Miller shared some of the causes of people becoming homeless. Roughly 80% of homeless people are struggling with mental health or addiction issues. Some people have become mentally ill from abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.

Los Angeles has tried to find solutions to house the homeless by spending over $619 million on homelessness in one year, but homelessness continued to grow. In 2016, LA raised $ 1.2 billion to raise affordable housing, but the money was spent on other causes because of a policy poor decision.

“How can we allow fellow men and women to suffer, while we squander this money,” Miller said. “Hold your politicians accountable.”

Each of these faculty members expressed many solutions that society can do to help the homeless, while trying to show compassion.