NewsLocal News


County supervisors accept bid to build new transitional homeless shelter project

Residents in Oildale, where the Tiney Oaks Transitional Shelter facility is to be built, say the location the county chose is not suitable for a homeless shelter.
Concept illustration of Tiney Oaks cabins
Posted at 7:33 PM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-11 14:05:55-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Homelessness is one of, if not the biggest issue in Bakersfield and the surrounding county. The Tiney Oaks Transitional Shelter project proposed for the Oildale area has left that community divided. Some residents are praising the first-of-its-kind shelter, but others say the location is not appropriate for a transitional housing project.

In the midst of the back and forth, the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to award a construction bid for the Tiney Oaks facility to Elite Constructors, Inc. The Board approved the contract to be signed subject to County Counsel's review and approval.

Passions ran high at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting. Public discussion on the Tiney Oaks project took more than two hours and involved more than 20 members of the community from both sides of the debate.

The Board's approval of the construction contract doesn't mean construction will begin right away. County counsel has to review the original land contract stating that the land was sold to the county for the purpose of building a new fire station. After this review, if approved, the county then signs the contract. This leaving some hope for those who don't want the shelter at that location.

Concerned resident Rich O'Neil was one of those who brought up safety concerns to the Board, as the shelter is planned to go up across the street from the Rasmussen Senior Center and a senior mobile home community.

Others, like Donna Clopton with the Oildale Community Action Team, think the proposed location is right where the facility needs to be.

"I work in the community and I live in the community where these tiny homes are going to be built," Clopton said. "These are our neighbors. They are already there. Let them get the services they are going to need. It doesn't make any sense."

The Tiney Oaks Transitional Shelter site is planned to include 50 sleeping cabins, 2 laundry buildings, 6 toilet and shower buildings, a parking lot, and regular utility hookups, as well as being completely fenced in.

Supervisors say they understand the community's frustration and have requested that those in charge of the project improve communication with residents in the area.

Initiatives like the Tiney Oaks project are an attempt to address increasing rates of homelessness happening in the state. According to recently released federal housing data, California accounts for more than half of all unsheltered and homeless people in the United States

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report says California has the highest rate of homelessness, with 44 out of every 10,000 residents being homeless. In 2022, more than 171,500 Californians were homeless, and 67 percent of those were without any kind of shelter.

California's rate of homelessness dwarfs the distant number two, Washington state, with nine times the unhoused residents.

California has also seen the largest year-on-year increase in the homeless population of any state, with nearly 10,000 more than in 2020 and 35,500 more than in 2007.

Federal data also shows California accounted for more than half, or 56%, of all unsheltered people in the country.

The full report is available online.