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City holding public forum to discuss homelessness and new shelter

The City is inviting the public to attend a forum and learn more about the new low-barrier homeless shelter coming to Bakersfield.
Calcot site
Brown site
Posted at 12:21 PM, Dec 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 12:29:50-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The City of Bakersfield continues to wrestle with where to put the new homeless shelter in hopes to tackle the crisis facing Kern County. The county as already located a property they feel meets county needs but the city is facing challenges after public backlash during the November council meeting.

The latest point-in-time count shows a 108% increase in 2019 showing a total of 1,150 homeless individuals on the street with 643 people unsheltered.

The City is inviting the public to attend a forum and learn more about the new low-barrier homeless shelter coming to Bakersfield.

There will be two meetings held for the public to attend. The first will be next Tuesday during the MLK Community Initiative Meeting at Jerusalem Mission Church, 924 Cottonwood Road, and Monday, Dec. 16 at MLK Community Center, 1000 South Owens Street. Both meetings start at 6 p.m.

The City is considering two locations for the new shelter, 1900 E. Brundage Lane and 501 Brown Street.

The Calcot property is located in councilmember Willie Rivera's ward. According to the city, it's a 7.42 acres office complex with 34,832 sq-ft of office space and an additional 34,975 sq-ft of warehouse space. The city says the property has the potential to grow after three years from 150 beds to 450 beds and allows for an all-inclusive shelter.

The City says they are considering another location located on 601 Brown Street but space is limited. Brown Street is only 1.89 acres with 9,500 sq-ft of office space and 22,800 sq-ft of warehouse space. They say the potential for growth is limited and that the site is located across the street from a residential area. The Brown Street property is also located in councilmember Andrae Gonzales's ward which already has the Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Mission At Kern County.

Councilmember Gozales released this statement to 23ABC:

"I'm strongly opposed to Brown Street. One of the criteria when identifying a site was that the shelter was removed from sensitive uses, including residential neighborhoods. Brown Street is located directly across the street from a residential area. It is not appropriate. Calcot is far superior." He hopes to hear from the community's ideas on how to make the project at Calcot the best possible project for the entire community.

We reached out to councilmember Willie Rivera for comment, he said his hope is that "staff attends the meeting and makes it a point to listen to what the community has to say. These community meetings should not be used as a platform to push a particular property over another."

Calcot site
Brown site

The new shelter will allow residents to have partners and pets. For more information, click here.