NewsKern's Homeless Crisis


Officials discuss the Brundage Lane Navigation Center expansion

Posted at 4:15 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 21:57:57-04

BAKERSFIELD, California. (KERO) — Homelessness is a top concern in Kern County and as the temperature continues to drop many shelters have started to fill up and are forced to turn people away.

Some are feeling a spark of hope as the Bakersfield City Council voted to approve an agreement with a local contractor to design a 150-bed expansion project at the Brundage Lane Navigation Center (BLNC).

Recently the BLNC reached capacity resulting in them turning away on average 64 people a week. That is why many feel this expansion would be so beneficial.

“I am so grateful to the elected officials of Bakersfield who are committed to not just hiding the problem of homelessness, but actually healing the problem of homelessness,” said Theo Dues, director of the Brundage Lane Navigation Center.

Dues said that in order to stop the problem of homelessness in our community we have to be dedicated to solving it not just managing it. Which is why the BLNC is so important.

“There are a whole menu of services that are accessible to you right here in our facility,” said Dues.

Those services include medical care, mental health care, chemical addiction care, and on-site job training.

 If the expansion plan is approved the new services will include:

  • increasing bed count from 150-300
  • expansion of the 7900 square foot service provider wing
  • working with hospitals to establish a recuperative care dorm for hospitals
  • increasing pet capacity from 15 to 50

Dues said it is important to eliminate as many barriers as possible for those experiencing homelessness.

“We are a low barrier shelter, meaning the traditional barriers that would prevent people from coming into shelter. We've removed all those barriers. We're pet-friendly shelter. We house couples,” said Dues.

The $58,274 expansion design project is possible due to funding through the Public Safety & Vital Services (PSVS) measure, also known as Measure N.

For president and CEO of Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce Nick Ortiz low barrier shelters are key in ending homelessness.

“The chamber was one of the strongest supporters of actually building and siting the BLNC,” said Ortiz.

Although Ortiz is happy strides are being made, he said the chamber is not finished.

“The pandemic has shown that our safety net has holes in it. And even with the level of investment that we've been making these last few years, there's still more to do,” said Ortiz.

Officials said it will be a few weeks before the expansion plan is brought before the board again.