Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — City and county representatives met with community members at the Jerusalem Mission Church to continue conversations about the homeless shelter Tueday.
Representatives from different departments within the city and the county shared their vision behind the project.
Assistant City Manager, Jackie Kitchen, addressed the public with a presentation explaining the logistics of the proposed shelter.
She said the city has conducted extensive research in efforts to address the homeless crisis in Bakersfield as best possible, including visiting homeless shelters in San Diego and San Luis Obispo, and Fresno to see what strategies those cities are using to address the matter.
Kitchen said the shelters Bakersfield is trying to build are different from the ones that currently exist. She said the new shelters would take in homeless people be based on referrals only and would not accept walk-ins. Those referrals could come from the Bakersfield Police Department, Kern Medical, or the Sheriff’s Department.
The city is also considering creating a police substation and a transportation system to the site. They said meals would only be provided to people staying at the shelter.
City officials said the goal of the shelter is to provide an environment to the homeless with resources that would help get them back on their feet. They said the shelters that currently exist do not offer a space for homeless people with a pet, a partner, or a procession, but are hopeful the shelter they want to create will change that.
“Homelessness in Bakersfield has been an issue growing in major, major proportions,” City Manager, Alan Tandy said.
Members from the community who attended the meeting said they are aware of the homeless crisis.
Many are in favor of addressing the homeless crisis, but do not support the locations the city is considering for the shelters. One of the proposed locations is 1900 E. Brundage Lane. That shelter would have capacity for 150 beds for the first three years. Right now, that site is owned by Calcot, Ltd, a cotton marketing cooperative. The location proposed for the second site is 601 Brown Street and would accommodate 150 beds for up to three years.
Residents who live near these areas said they want the city and county officials to consider priorities that are important to them.
"We also want the city to understand and hear the residents as they've been asking for things for over 30 years, many residents who are in this area are one paycheck away from being homeless,” Arleana Waller, meeting organizer said.
On Monday December 16, 2019, another community meeting where the questions and concerns of the community will be addressed again.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the MLK Community center at 1000 Owens St.