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Over 26,000 affordable units needed to combat housing crisis in Kern County

Posted at 6:49 PM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-30 22:00:15-04

BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — A new report released this week by the California Housing Partnership says that Kern County is in a housing crisis for low-income renters.

Last month, 23ABC Lezla Gooden reported that there are more than 16,000 people on the low-income public housing list here.

This week, the California Housing Partnership released a report saying 26,203 is the number of affordable rental units needed to meet the current housing demand. It was created through a collaboration with the California Coalition for Rural Housing based in Sacramento.

"During our active years of development, we were averaging 300 units brought to Kern County with this number it would take 87 years to reach that goal,” said Heather Kimmel, assistant executive director of Housing Authority of the County of Kern.

One of the contributors, Danielle Mazzella, preservation and data Manager for California Housing Partnership says that the housing and food prices are driving costs of living out of reach for low income families in Kern County.

“Probably the most frightening thing is that the 26,000 number is the need for today, that is not projected for next year or any future growth,” said Mazzella. “That is just to affordably house low-income renters today.”

The report states that renters in Kern County would need to earn 1.5 times the minimum wage of $12 an hour to afford the median asking rent of Kern County of $915 a month.

“Up to 2012 there was way of funding affordable housing development through a program called, Rural Development in 2012,” said Kimmel.

“That program went away, and the state no longer funded it and made it harder for developers to bring projects to life and new construction.”

Losing key funding statewide had a direct impact in Kern County.

“There is new legislation passing at the state and we are starting to see key funding program for affordable housing being refunded and we hope with these new findings new units can be added to these communities,” Mazzella said.

Kimmel adds that there are 260 units that are planning to come available in the next 12 to 30 months.

“It can't be just one developer alone doing this work in Kern County,” Kimmel said. “It's going to take a team of developers coming in, state regulations changes on how they fund affordable housing and everyone working together to come up with a solution.”

If any developers would like to help combat this crisis, be sure to reach out to the developer department through the housing authority.

You can read the full report below: