BAKERSFIELD, CA. — Governor Gavin Newsom and local elected officials on both sides of the political aisle met in Bakersfield on Thursday to find solutions to end the homeless crisis.
"I applaud the Governor for coming down here. We have a lot of disagreements, we debate on policy issues, but one of the things that we can come together on is homeless issues," Senator Shannon Grove said.
Newsom announced that he is allocating an additional $35 million in emergency state funding that local cities and counties can use to fight homelessness head on.
"This is for local leaders to figure out what is in their best interest and most urgent need of their community and then strike strategy and address and intervene. So these dollars can be used however they see fit," Newsom said.
It is funding that the county desperately needs as the number of people on the streets is now at a tipping point.
Newsom heard from local leaders and experts who see firsthand the devastation in Kern County. They came together to talk about how they can work to reverse the growing number of people who find themselves homeless.
"Our vacancy rate in affordable housing in Kern County is at one percent right now and that is challenging to try and place people. He acknowledges that low income housing needs to be an incentive and we need to start building," Bakersfield Homeless Center CEO Louis Gill said.
Another initiative on the table this afternoon was Newsom's 100 day challenge, where he is asking local leaders to find unique and effective ways to fight homelessness.
Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh announced Bakersfield is up for the challenge.
Officials said they do not have an exact plan yet on how resources and funding will be implemented in Kern County, but they discussed providing more affordable housing, emergency shelters and mental health and addiction resources as tactics to fight the issue.