The Kern County Board of Supervisors approved a $3.5 million three year contract with Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) to operate a safe camping area for the homeless.
The camping area for the homeless is expected to open in April and is located behind the M street Navigation Center. The primary goal is to gain trust with individuals to help them move from the camps to the Navigation Center and then into permanent housing.
“Right now we have the area that is adjacent to our Navigation Center. We have that set up for encampment roughly about 40 spaces. We are reinforcing the fence, we will be adding security, we will have a guard shack, we will set up tents, we will have restrooms, we will have trash pick-up, and we will be hiring staff that will be monitoring that area,” said Laurie Hughey, Program Manager.
The encampment will be monitored 24/7 with both security as well as the staff, and spaces will be on a first come first serve basis.
CAPK will be working with Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services on homeless outreach in Bakersfield.They will also be working with a medical team that will engage with homeless persons.
Tents, sleeping bags, three meals a day, hygiene supplies, showers, and medical services will be provided at the camping area.
“There are a couple outreach teams that are already out who recrute and bring them to our navigation center, so if they decide that they do not want to go into the navigation center their other option would be to set up their encampment on the existing site,” said Hughey.
As of March 9, 2022 there are 112 residents and there are up to 150 beds which currently leaves about 38 beds open. They stay for a couple of nights and then they leave and that is because they might be reunited with family or have self resolved their homelessness.
“There have been a lot more individuals experiencing homelessness that were out on the street. We have had families that were displaced because of a fire. During the middle of a pandemic people were losing their jobs, not being able to sustain, substance abuse, mental illness, PTSD, and there are so many other reasons why people end up being homeless,” said Hughey. “I do not believe it’s by choice. I think it has to do with something that may have happened along the way that has placed them in a predicament that they find themselves experiencing homelessness.”
They also take in homeless persons with companion animals. They have kennels at their existing site and for the encampment the animals would stay with them as well.
CAPK constantly works with the outreach team, medical hospitals, probation, and parole to bring residents to the navigation center.