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Kern County Supervisors approve plan for low barrier homeless shelter in unanimous vote

Posted: 11:44 AM, Oct 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-29 21:16:25-04
Homeless in Bakersfield (FILE)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Kern County Supervisors unanimously approved an operational plan for the construction of a low barrier homeless shelter in Central Bakersfield at a special meeting on Tuesday morning.

Supervisors declared a homeless shelter crisis during Tuesday morning's special meeting and details were discussed concerning the proposed low barrier shelter to be built on Golden State Highway and O Street.

The lot includes two buildings: one for housing with about 150 beds for men and women and the other including various services and administration.

The facility will allow pets, possessions, and partners.

The plan also included two security guards on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week with security cameras throughout the facility.

In addition, county staff ran down a list of local organizations that have stepped up to supply services to the people who come to the shelter.

Officials say the project has a fiscal impact of $4.3 million with an operational budget of $1.3 million.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood stepped up and talked about the need for greater vigilance when it comes to the safety of the people at the facility.

"I'm in support of this. I think that we're... it's a step in the right direction. But never lose sight of the fact that we're dealing with a large percentage of these people who have drug issues, they're under the influence, they're not thinking with clear mind, they have mental health issues and if we think nothing bad is going to happen, we're going to be shocked."

Louis Gill with the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter and outgoing City Manager Alan Tandy applauded the county's project, while each promised big announcements for the city shelter and the homeless center in the days and weeks to come.

However, Kyle Carter, owner of the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame just a few blocks away from the site expressed concern about the location, cost and security.

Supervisors asked staff to come back with a security plan to deal with those concerns to be signed off by the Kern County Sheriff and the Bakersfield Police Department.