BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Community Action Partnership of Kern and county officials have partnered to provide the homeless community with a new campsite and parking lot that is set to open next Monday.
CAPK’s M Street Navigation Center will host 42 campsites that will provide an array of services for those who need it most.
The Kern County Board of Supervisors approved the plan back in March.
“We’re trailblazing here," says Rebecca Moreno, the director of community development at CAPK. "We're doing something different that Kern County hasn't seen and so we're really excited about that and we're really grateful for the partnership with the county.”
After construction is complete the campsite will open on June 13th and will provide clients with a tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, three meals a day, and access to restrooms and showers all on newly installed grass turf. It will also provide safe parking for those with vehicles.
“If you’re a single woman sleeping in your car, that can get pretty scary even for any individual. You know that’s pretty scary you don’t know who’s out there with what types of weapons,” said M Street Navigation Program Manager Laurie Hughey back in March.
Moreno says they’ve heard the concerns of the homeless community and one of the primary reasons that some are reluctant to come into a shelter is due to barriers which she says they were determined to address.
“A few of those are partners. Partners want to stay together, whether it be in our male and female dorm or like Brundage Lane that offers couples a room together. There is a long waiting list for that because couples don't want to be separated.”
Moreno adds that a limitation on pets is also a barrier that people face. She says that specifically at their campsite, they will allow people to bring two dogs or cats per person. And in addition to addressing these barriers, they want to make sure people at the campsite also have access to vital resources.
“Behavioral health will go out there. Medical through Kern Medical Center and their program that comes in Mondays and Fridays, they will be providing medical services as well. Flood Outreach will be engaging and providing some of that outreach the way they would to an encampment on the river or you know throughout the community.”
Moreno adds the campsite has been receiving referrals from law enforcement, medical providers, and mental health providers to serve more of the homeless community in our area and give them what she says is important – a choice.
“We want to be able to provide a safe space. We want you to continue to feel like you have your freedom and your choice. That's the biggest thing is your choice and that we want to be able to be here to help if you need it.”
Back in March, Anna Laven, Executive Director of the Bakersfield Homeless Collaborative, said the program can eventually connect people with long-term housing.
“It lends us additional options, it gives us more diversity for the types of programming and getting folks really that much closer to getting connected, to getting them stable, and getting them housed, which is really our ultimate goal.”
Learn more about CAPK and get involved through volunteering.