City of Bakersfield – Job and Skills Training
In May 2013, the City of Bakersfield partnered with the Bakersfield Homeless Center (BHC) on an agreement to help solve the problem of highway litter after state budget cuts reduced Caltrans’ resources to clean up highways. The partnership developed an innovative freeway litter clean up program on the local freeways by members of the homeless community. The program would provide job training skills and increase employment opportunities for the homeless population and the problem of highway litter.
The funding for this agreement came from Caltrans and the Kern Council of Governments. Through this partnership, clients of BHC were able to receive paying jobs to clean the freeways. As a result, over 50 homeless individuals were employed at minimum wage, about 250 family members were in housing and approximately 64 percent paid their own rent, without any subsidy. Additionally, local businesses have begun to participate in similar programs—the city now provides jobs in green waste sorting and animal care.
The successful program was able to not only reduce its highway litter problem, but also decrease its homeless population and create an emerging labor force, eager to work. Many of the individuals that participated in the program were able to receive better paying jobs in the private sector, and even within the city.