NewsKern's Homeless Crisis


M. Street Navigation Center open since May has new restrictions due to COVID-19

Posted at 5:21 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 21:33:03-04

The Navigation Center has been open since May, but in the past couple of months, restrictions have changed due to COVID-19. 23ABC's Bayne Froney spoke with the center to see how things have been going for the center and how they are adjusting with the pandemic.

The homeless shelter on M. Street in Downtown Bakersfield is designed to be a 24-hour facility that provides beds, meals, medical assistance, and more. In just 2 months, officials said the center has been able to help the homeless population in countless ways.

Rudy Ventura, a resident at the M Street Navigation Center said, “We’re a family here.”

Two months ago Ventura was living out of his car and of the experience said, “It’s not good. Not only is it hard to survive, but the way that we are made to feel by the rest of society, not pointing any fingers, but we want to come out of this feeling fully functional.”

The main goal for the center is to find permanent housing for its residents. The center utilizes the help of Flood Bakersfield Ministries who identify the homeless individuals that they deem at risk and would benefit from a shelter.

Executive Director of Flood Bakersfield Ministries Jim Wheeler said, "We want to get them out of the heat, out of the elements, out of the situation that they’re in, and get them into a stable situation like the M Street Navigation Center.”

The center gives residents access to mental health services, substance abuse services, or employment training. COVID-19 has caused the center to downsize from 150 residents to 50.

Program Manager for the Center Laurie Hughey said, "So that we can social distance, and as we are doing our intake process, we are actually doing our COVID screening as well."

Officials said that won't stop the center from accepting and helping the homeless population.

Hughey said, “I think that the most beneficial part is that we are open and that we are accepting homeless individuals and trying to provide shelter and safety to get them off of the streets so that they’re safe.”

The center is determined to keep helping those that they can and help residents, like Rudy, set goals for their futures.

“To get housing and probably regain relationships that I had let go in the past,” said Ventura.

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