BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bakersfield Homeless Center started its plans to relocate to a new area. They will also merge with the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.
They say the new campus will be double the size of the one they currently have and will allow them to provide space for more families and individual needs.
The current property where the homeless center is located has been purchased by California High-Speed Rail Authority.
Unlike other shelters across the city, in this one, you can hear kids playing in the background, and that is because of the services they provide like childcare and after-school programs. For many of those who come through the center, the kids in their lives are their biggest push.
A former resident of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, Teresa Quevedo, is counting the days she can have her grandchildren back from foster care and into her new home.
"Pretty soon they are going to step foot through that door and they are going to be home."
The journey has not been easy, but her moral compass has led her to always put family first. That’s how she ended up in the Homeless Center, to begin with. Quevedo had been living with her daughter, but when new people moved into their home during COVID, there was not enough space for everyone. She moved to the Center and stayed there for more than a year.
"Make sure that my daughter’s home was secure and with being too many people in the house, I did not want her to in any trouble with the landlord."
During that time she was able to get a job cleaning the highway. Quevedo has now been working for a year and recently secured housing.
"When I finally got approved for the apartment, I think I cried for a solid week. Being able to get housing, is what enabled me to get my grandkids."
It is services like the employment center and housing help, that helped Quevedo get to this point. And it is state and city funds that help make it possible. That is why the city of Bakersfield will be giving $1 million dollars in state Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention funds designated for the homeless crisis, to build the new campus.
"So right now, we have about 240 beds on this campus. When we move to the new campus we will have 340 beds, and those additional 100 beds will be supported by those HHAP dollars allocated by the city of Bakersfield today," explained Lauren Skidmore, the CEO of the Bakersfield Homeless Center.
Skidmore adds this will help address the increased need they have seen among families of all sizes.
"Expanded need for families. We also have a lot of single dads coming here for support, and single women we are seeing an uptick across the county."
Now they have secured a location in town for the new homeless center, which they expect will open in the fall of 2025. The director says this gives them ample time to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Homeless Data Across the Country and the County
During the Bakersfield Homeless Center's report, they also shared the latest data on homelessness here at their facility and across the nation. 23ABC took an in-depth look at those numbers and broke them down.
First, 580,466 people across the United States are currently homeless. Twenty-eight percent or 162,530 of those homeless are in California. Of those 70 percent of the homeless population are men.
White people make up the largest group in that homeless population. However, there is a rise in African Americans becoming homeless across the nation.
Homeless Data in Bakersfield
In Bakersfield, the homeless center shared their current numbers. It's important to note these numbers are only from the Bakersfield Homeless Center and do not include the Brundage Lane or M Street Navigation Center.
Currently, the Bakersfield Homeless Center has 185 people at its shelter. Forty-seven percent of the total number of people they served in 2021 were Hispanic.
Most of their clients are women or children under the age of 18. However, there has been a rise in single fathers coming to the facility.
There has also been a rise in African Americans at the Bakersfield Homeless Center.