BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The streets of downtown Bakersfield were packed with veterans who brought their family’s out for the annual Veterans Day parade Monday morning.
While those veterans got to go back to their homes after the festivities, over a 100 of the community’s veterans will remain on these downtown streets or in shelters because they are homeless.
The California Veterans Assistance Foundation says veterans account for 10 percent of the homeless population in Kern County, according to a 2019 point-in-time count.
Deborah Johnson, president and CEO of CVAF says they know each one of those 109 homeless veterans by name, but providing resources to them isn't easy.
"Anytime we engage with someone that's homeless, developing trust is the biggest issue," Johnson said. "Sometimes it takes up to 17 engagements with one individual to let them know that we are truly there to assist and to help them."
It's a pressing concern in the midst of a homeless crisis in Bakersfield.
While the county is preparing their low-barrier shelter in Central Bakersfield, the city is asking for three months to study the impact of their proposed shelter location.
Johnson says her foundation is opening up permanent unsubsidized housing in Oildale, specifically for homeless veterans, including their spouses and families, if any.
The Covie Cottages will have 12 available units for those veterans and will have the capacity to house 36 individuals, according to Johnson.
Rent is estimated to cost between $350 and $500 depending on different circumstances, Johnson said.
The groundbreaking for the facility will be hosted on Tuesday.