BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Ongoing homelessness and the lack of affordable housing continue to be issues in Bakersfield.
During Wednesday's Housing and Homelessness Committee meeting, the continuation of the Brundage Lane Navigation Center, the Family Reunification Project, and the ADU (accessory dwelling units) Grant Program were all discussed as ways to assist with the homelessness issue in the area.
Assistant to the City Manager Anthony Valdez discussed success rates for the Brundage Lane Navigation Center during Tuesday's committee meeting.
“We continue to see it at functional capacity — 97% capacity when you include the beds that are held for emergency situations. That's functional capacity," said Valdez, adding that PG&E has completed construction of a gas pipeline for the shelter on Friday allowing them to “move people out of the rain and into the shelter."
Valdez says this provides the opportunity to move the men out of their current dorms into two new expanded dorms. Women will move into the men's previous dorms, making room for new residents. By doing this, the city hopes to fill all beds to reach the shelter's capacity of 268.
Valdez adds the reason for these updates is to lower the number of people on their waiting lists. As of now, there are 53 people who say they are willing to enter the shelter but have been turned away due to lack of capacity.
Valdez says current members will begin moving dorms starting April 3.
One of the newer strategies discussed at the meeting was the use of Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, which are an affordable type of home construction that does not require land payments or new infrastructure.
Bakersfield City Assistant Economic Development Director Jenni Byers explains the first steps in creating ADUs in Bakersfield.
"A database and tool for identifying vacant sites. That's actually an exciting tool for me, particularly that it shows where we have vacant sites that could have affordable housing, and that will be made available to the developers," said Byers.
Byers went on to say that the system isn't ready yet, but is currently under design, adding that the city hopes to release the tool to developers in the next few weeks.
The city is also working to pilot a fee-waiver program for homeowners who agree to build ADUs and agree to rent them out at an affordable price for 5 years.
"A program to have 10 units each year over the next 3 years, so I said it's a 5-year program; the first 2 years, we established the affordable housing trust fund, and then also some funds went to rental units," said Byers.
Members at the meeting did clarify that, due to budgeting, as of now they're only able to construct at least 10 ADUs. Byers says the city will partner with local lenders in the future to develop a no-interest, 5-year program to incentivize homeowners to construct ADUs.
23ABC IN-DEPTH: LOOK INTO THE HOMELESS POPULATION
According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), as of January 2020, California had just over 160,000 people experiencing* homelessness. Of that total, just over 8,000 were family households.
Over 11,000 were veterans, over 12,000 were young adults between the age of 18 and 24, and almost 52,000 people were experiencing chronic homelessness.