NewsCovering Kern County


Congressman Kevin McCarthy and various officials address Kern County homeless issue

Federal, state and local officials issue plan for Bakersfield homelessness
Posted at 6:11 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 21:11:02-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. --- — Federal, state and local officials committed to multiple plans to address the homeless issue in Bakersfield and surrounding Kern County areas.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy facilitated a forum on homelessness at the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at noon, which was closed to the public.

The meeting held two weeks after 23ABC News posted photos on social media showing a homeless encampment set up on the jungle gym at Central Park, resulting in thousands of disgruntled community members commenting on the post, demanding to know what officials are going to do address the ongoing issue.

Local Assemblyman Vince Fong said "the city and the county and the people living in our community are demanding action."

McCarthy told 23ABC News after the forum, that their first goal is a short-term expansion of a shelter.

"If you can't provide more beds, you can not provide the care and the treatment for the individuals who are on the street."

The Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Mission at Kern County both committed to add dozens of beds to their facility. But, they say, this is contingent on whether the business community near those facilities, support their decision.

Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh said within the next three months, the city anticipates to select one of 10 locations they are considering to establish homeless facility. "We're not prepared today to give the public those specific locations, but we're looking at 10, examining those carefully so we can make the best choice."

Selecting a location is difficult Goh says because many residents and business owners don't want a shelter near their property.

Those who "say not in my backyard, that is a challenge for us."

The city and county plan to meet weekly to monitor the developments of their plans.