NewsCovering Kern County


City of Bakersfield to hold third public forum on homelessness Tuesday night

Posted at 12:39 PM, Jan 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 15:51:14-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The city of Bakersfield will hold a public forum this afternoon to discuss its proposed low-barrier homeless shelter.

Time is running out for the public to bring ideas and comments to the drawing board of the city of Bakersfield's new homeless shelter.

"And now we're at this critical moment where the city council will have to make a decision on where we're putting this facility and that will happen on January 22nd," explained City of Bakersfield Councilmember Andrae Gonzales. "The existing shelters in Bakersfield currently are full and we know there are still others who don't qualify sort of speak or cannot enter those facilities for many reasons, either they have pets, they have partners they don't want to part with or they have possessions they can't bring along."

The new shelter would bring down those barriers making it a low barrier shelter in one of two suggested locations. One location is a property on Brown Street in councilmember Andrae Gonzalez's ward or the Calcot property in Councilmember Willie Rivera's ward.

"My hope is that we build it at Calcot and that we move forward with the plan we set forth months and months ago," said Gonzalez.

"I'm still making my case that I think there are better, cheaper, more efficient alternatives on the table. Things we're not considering. Things the city council should look at when we come to the item later this month," argued Rivera.

Tuesday's public forum has been moved to Mechanic's Bank (formerly Rabobank) Convention Center in hopes of hearing from a different side of the community.

"Often when it comes to issues like this we hear from people who are most directly affected and it's important to hear from those people but in this third meeting we want to hear from the broader community, stakeholders throughout Bakersfield," said Gonzalez.

And after Tuesday's meeting, time will be ticking for a decision.

"I'm hoping they leave better informed and that we leave knowing what the community is thinking," said Rivera.

The meeting is set to take place Tuesday night, January 7 at 6 p.m. at the Mechanics Bank Convention Center.