Homeless Quarters - United we stand against homelessness in America!

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MARCH 3, 2003
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu

A California State University, Bakersfield professor hopes his latest effort to help the homeless will fit Bakersfield to a T.

Sociology professor Russell Travis's organization Homeless Quarters will be holding a T-shirt sale on Saturday, March 15, from 1 to 4 p.m. on the sidewalk in front of Russo's Bookstore at The Marketplace shopping center, 9000 Ming Ave. The T-shirt sale will feature multicolored prints of local themes, such as "Bakersfield, A Riverbed Runs Through It," or, for the oil folks, "I Just Love It When You Talk Crude." Other slogans available include "I Came, I Saw, I Played A Round" (for golfers), and "Life's A Bleach, And Then You Dye."

"There will be T-shirts for adults, and for children, all for only $5 each," Travis said. "All of the proceeds will go to the Homeless Quarters Foundation." Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall is expected to attend the fundraiser, and "to help us celebrate this formal and public launching of the Homeless Quarters' Kern County Chapter," he added.

Travis founded Homeless Quarters as a means to raise funds to help the homeless. His Homeless Quarters Foundation has placed clear plastic containers shaped like houses, with the inscription, "United We Stand Against Homelessness in America," in various Kern County businesses asking residents to deposit a spare quarter.

And it really does add up. Travis estimates that "if a quarter of the national population ponied up one quarter - just 25 cents - a day for one year, it would be possible to raise $6.3 billion and, in Kern County alone, it would total nearly $15 million. That kind of boost in funding would put a spectacular dent in the homelessness problem locally."

The local focus of Homeless Quarters entails a dual-emphasis on both the homeless population, as well as on the thousands who constitute the "near-homeless," with the ultimate aim of virtually eliminating the problem of homelessness in this county altogether, he said.

"When you boil things down to the bare bones, the dilemma in Kern County is much the same as elsewhere," Travis said. "Too many families and singles are forced to pay out 50 percent or more of their meager income to provide a roof over their heads. Many thousands are just a paycheck or two away from entering the ranks of the homeless, as the price of housing continues to soar while incomes continue to remain relatively stagnant. And the situation is worsening, as California and the rest of the nation suffers through dramatic budget crunches that tend to disproportionately hurt the poor and the working-poor alike."

Travis said "resolving the homelessness crisis in our area is truly in the best interests of the public - economically, and in every other way. The community needs to come together on this to really make it happen. Needless to say, Homeless Quarters will do whatever it can to help make Kern County a showcase of solutions that other counties will want to emulate."

Travis invited those interested to visit his website at www.HomelessQuarters.org for more information. Or call him at (661) 664-3159.

Meanwhile, he's preparing his T-shirts for the sidewalk sale on March 15. "It's the type of event that should fit everyone to a T," he said.

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