Dominic Indolino |Staff Writer|
The recession of the late 2000s hit San Bernardino County hard.
According to the Economic Development Agency of San Bernardino, unemployment hit a high of 14.3 percent in 2010.
But, according to the Community Foundation, the county of San Bernardino is due for some extreme changes by 2035. I think this is great, especially because of the devastation this recession has caused some residents of San Bernardino County.
“The crisis in San Bernardino has been real,” said Jason Richter, a San Bernardino native.
Jason lost his city job in 2012 because of the city’s bankruptcy declaration.
“It was all bad,” Jason said while waiting for his bus on Highland Avenue. “I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I got the job with the city because I was always told that was were the most security was.”
A year after losing his job, Richter fell into a depression and wandered the streets of San Bernardino.
Though it was “some of the scariest times of [his] life,” Richter’s homeless lifestyle allowed him to fully grasp the state that his beloved county was in, something I could never do.
“A lot of us homeless would get together sometimes and talk about the things we saw,” Richter said. The county’s restaurants and commercial buildings would sport a “surreal” amount of “for lease” or “for sale” signs.
“That’s all I would hear about for weeks. How this place would close down, or how that place would have a new owner,” Richter told me over his cigarette. “I was told that most places wouldn’t last a month.”
San Bernardino county has many homeless residents because 80 percent of the land is outside of incorporated areas. Due to their lack of trust, many homeless residents avoid census employees, so the statistics on them are estimates and rely mainly on figures from past census information and algorithms, according to the U.S. Census Department.
Eventually, Richter sought help from an estranged uncle living in Riverside. “The moment I sought refuge, it was like the clouds parted from the sky and all I could see was sunlight.”
The clouds also parted upon San Bernardino County. New reports commissioned by the county have shown improvements in lowering the unemployment rate to 9.3 percent as of March 2014.
This has been thanks to Amazon opening its second major fulfillment center in Moreno Valley, along with the logistics sector, adding more than 16,000 jobs since 2010. Although Moreno Valley is a part of Riverside County, it is a part of the Inland Empire, whose revenue directly affects San Bernardino County, according to the Community Foundation.
The report by the Community Foundation projects a 3.9 percent increase for jobs in construction and a 3.7 percent increase in jobs for Healthcare and Social Assistance in the next three years.
San Bernardino County, in its revival, is planning on giving back to departments, whose funding it cut in 2012, along with working on becoming more environmentally conscious and improving public safety.
As San Bernardino looks towards a more prosperous age, Richter shares his vision. He now works at the new Amazon fulfillment center in Moreno Valley as a warehouse employee and hopes to move back to the city he loves.
“Though the job is tough and has done a number on my back, I am just glad to be working again,” Jason beamed as the number 11 bus pulled up to the stop.