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Professor Making Effort to Change Homeless Situation with Charity

By CHARLES ADAMSON Californian staff writer e-mail: cadamson@bakersfield.com

Professor Making Effort to Change Homeless Situation with Charity A quarter here and a dime there. It was spare change to some. But put together it became a rental security deposit on several apartments for others. And a refrigerator for each of five families.

Cal State Bakersfield sociology professor Russell Travis began the Homeless Quarters charity a year ago as an experiment to help people find permanent housing. Travis and seven other volunteers have been putting out plastic coin banks at businesses around Bakersfield where patrons can deposit their extra change.

There are about 100 around town now at sites including Young's Market place on Brundage Lane, Sweet Surrender and at Little Caesars pizza locations in Bakersfield.

On Monday Travis was at Kern Schools Federal Credit Union on Panama Lane depositing about 215 pounds of change and several fistfuls of cash from the collection cans. It came to $2,224. "That will be gone by the end of the month," Travis said. "The money goes fast, but that's good."

Monday's deposit was the second since the charity was started. He made a deposit for about $1,200 in April. He's used the money to help clients of the Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Rescue Mission.

"This was the experimental year," Travis said. "Was it just a novel idea or does it have legs? Well, my gosh, it has legs. I'm amazed it is working so well."

Next he hopes to spread the program to Fresno and then into larger cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. He has another 150 coin banks to distribute and 250 more on order.

Travis' idea is simple. If just one in four people in Kern County, or any region for that matter, gives 25 cents per day there will be enough money to end homelessness in the given area.

The Bakersfield Homeless Center's Executive Director Louis Gill said money for things like refrigerators and security deposits is hard to come by.

"These type of dollars, dollars to help people get into new homes, are very scarce. Typically the client would have to come up with these funds on their own," Gill said. "I'm very hopeful that this will continue."


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