A new homeless shelter, located in Bakersfield on M Street and 29th, is nearing completion after numerous setbacks due to weather and piping issues. According to the Bakersfield Californian, the shelter is “low barrier”, meaning it’s made of a tent-like structure to accommodate the homeless and their possessions.
According to the Bakersfield Californian’s article by Robert Price, “The county’s three million dollar low-barrier homeless navigation center [is] due to open in late February.” Price claims that the shelter looks to be an important part of the solution to homelessness in Bakersfield. As stated by Price, Kern County Chief Administration officer Ryan Alsop says, “This would typically be an 18-month construction process and it’s being squeezed into three months. It’s being done at record speed.” He also observes, “It’s not Disneyland. But it’s what we need and what we set out to do.”
Freshman at Ridgeview High School Sahib Singh says, “I’ve seen homeless people all around what you could call ‘the bad parts’ of Bakersfield, and I absolutely think we need another homeless shelter.” Singh claims he believes the shelter is a good place for people to get medical and mental help, and will decrease homelessness on and off campus overall.
Another student, Paramvir Sandhu, says, “Homelessness is a real issue in Bakersfield because there are a bunch of people holding up things like cardboard signs on the sidewalk all the time.” John-Carlo Abraham, another freshman at Ridgeview, gives his opinion on the homeless shelter. “I think a new homeless shelter would probably decrease homelessness because it would give people a place to go and get help to get back on their feet,” says Abraham.
The shelter will be staffed by employees of Kern Medical, Behavioral Health and Recovery, the Housing Authority, Employers Training Resource, the Sheriff’s Department and Community Action Partnership of Kern. Volunteers, including groups from Canyon Hills Church’s CityServe and Flood Ministries, will also help. The shelter will be well protected and patrolled by security, as well as have restrooms, showers, and areas for safe storage of pets and belongings. “An area near the tracks has been set aside for a row of about 50 diagonally parked cars to accommodate overnight parking — what we might call car campers,” Price reports. The facility is expected to provide a place to sleep for at least 150 homeless, and many are looking forward to what the project will bring for the homeless community.