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In this file photo, trash is visible along Highway 58, near South Chester Avenue.

A jobs program that employs homeless individuals received a boost by the Kern County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

In an effort to “kill two birds with one stone,” supervisors drafted a contract that tasks homeless individuals with cleaning litter along state highways in unincorporated Kern County areas.

The contract is an expansion of the Bakersfield Homeless Center Job Development Program, which provides cleanup services to the city of Bakersfield and businesses in the area. The program aims to provide homeless individuals with job experience so they can become self-sufficient.

Caltrans itself will provide $25,000 for the program for the remainder of the fiscal year, while the Kern Council of Governments will provide $50,000.

Supervisor David Couch has been pushing for the contract for nearly a year, after seeing the success of the program in Bakersfield.

“It’s a win-win situation when we use state funds to put Kern County’s homeless population to work,” Couch said in a statement. “With the wages that come from this program, these workers from the Bakersfield Homeless Center that are able to work can begin to support themselves and their families again, and at the same time their work makes our community look so much better. It’s all part of the many-layered approach we must take as a community to solve the problem of homelessness.”

The Job Development Program has expanded since it started in 2009. Hundreds of homeless individuals have participated since its inception, with the program finding housing for participants, their spouses and their children.

“It’s smart government,” Couch's district director, Sal Moretti, said. “To take a dollar of government money and use it to put a homeless person to work, and then that person gets housing, it extends out the taxpayer dollar.”

While Bakersfield has been the beneficiary of the Job Development Program for many years, work crews will begin to service county areas in the next week and a half, if all goes according to plan.

Moretti said a crew of five workers will work five days a week, initially focusing on state roads near Bakersfield before moving outward.

The program will continue on an annual basis, after the end of the fiscal year in June. Next fiscal year, the program is expected to receive $125,000 for operations.

Previously, Caltrans workers and crews from local jails maintained the areas around the highways on a limited basis. Moretti said the new contract would allow Kern County highways to be serviced on a more regular basis.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

(19) comments


that trash in the ice plant looks more like its from working class Trump folks that they tossed out of their gas guzzling trucks as they speed down Bill Thomas's miles of asphalt to me....lock them up

Gene Pool Chlorinator

You really need to seek help.

I guess there aren't any well-to-do democrats, right??


pretty sure those Starbucks coffee cups aren't from the homeless

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Actually many Starbucks locations do give out free beverages to the homeless; remember, SBUX is a "woke" company & have very relaxed policies when it comes to allowing homeless to loiter...

Surprised you didn't Google that one...


I'm going to ask again, how does the trash get there? Aren't we paying the litterers to pick up after themselves?


Maybe we could help fund this great program by doing a better job of enforcing litter laws by catching the perpetrators who feel entitled to use the streets as their trash cans. Fines can be an amazing education tool in teaching responsible citizenship.


Slave labor




it is nice to see local leaders in the county finally playing nice with the state of California for the greater good......


Supervisor Couch, we salute you . . . for wisdom, not wasted in words, but working to right a pair of wrongs with this "TWOFER":

1. Wayside Waste.

2. Withered Wills

Bravo Zulu, Sir . . . !


How does the trash get there?


I doubt if there is one-size-fits-all magical solution to fix a whole group of people who have ended down and out for a myriad of reasons. …..this work may seem demeaning to some…. to others a opportunity to maybe get their life back on track....


Walking today I saw a homeless man pushing his shopping cart screaming profanities at no one in particular. My thought, not a good thought, or worthy thought, but my thought was: This man is expending tremendous energy which exemplifies his mental torment and anguish. … County considers "killing two birds with one stone," putting homeless on highway cleanup. The guy I saw would be reasonably likely, I'd imagine to run off into highway traffic. Resulting in 1) his death (maybe no big deal to some); and 2) a claim against the County. Bottom Line: Many homeless people have serious mental illness issues which cannot be solved by attempts to 'turn them into productive persons' by cleaning up trash, etc.

Patricia Edna

I highly doubt this is the type of person they intend to put in the program, or the type of person who would even be cognizant enough to participate.




Better plan would put welfare recipients out picking up garbage. No reason for them to collect benefits and sit home and watch Jerry Springer all day.


I am right there with you on this one, sir.


Yeah. Make them get a minimum wage job, so that they can turn around and give all that money to the babysitter who is raising their kids for them while they work.


Then you must be such a recipient because if you weren’t you wouldn’t be happy paying for able bodied people to sit on their arse all day every day and do nothing productive but do things like watching Springer.

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