KHS secures millions to address housing and homelessness in Kern County

January 27, 2023 /

Kern Health Systems (KHS) has secured more than $19 million from the California State Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) incentive funds to address housing and homelessness in Kern County.

According to a press release by KHS, “These non-Medi-Cal incentive funds were awarded to organizations across Kern County who were able to present a comprehensive, outcomes-based plan that would address the key contributing factors the unhouses and medically vulnerable individuals in our community face.”

Kern Health Systems, the County Health Authority, is an independent public agency that governs Kern Family Health Care, the Health Plan of more than 350,000 members. As a public entity, Kern Health Systems’ mission is dedicated to improving the health status of its members through an integrated managed health care delivery system.

KHS obtained this funding through an optional state-subsidized program under the CalAIM Housing and Homelessness Incentive Program (HHIP).

“Through this investment, Kern Health Systems — in collaboration with the provider and community-based organization partners — will work toward becoming a key partner in the creation of a coordinated and unified regional response to prevent and reduce homelessness,” stated Emily Duran, Chief Executive Officer of Kern Health Systems. “By addressing the basic housing needs of our membership, we will also be improving the health and well-being of our most vulnerable members and our community.”

HHIP’s primary focus is on reducing and preventing homelessness and delivering a variation of housing services that provide whole-person care and improve health accessibility.

“These funds will fill gaps in the continuum of care for adults, youth, and families experiencing behavioral health challenges and homelessness who are traditionally not engaged. KBHRS will be able to expand its services, programs, and outreach with many community (including rural) partners to truly make a difference with our homeless population,” commented community partner Stacy Kuwahara, the Director of Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (KBHRS).

With this funding, KHS will partner with network providers and community-based organizations in support of housing and homelessness service delivery projects. The goal of these projects is to demonstrate a commitment to address inequities and disparities in homeless populations and achieve the equitable provision of wrap-around services.

“Our commitment with this funding is to be innovative and compassionate when supporting those at risk of becoming homeless or those facing homelessness,” said community partner Lauren Skidmore, Chief Executive Officer of The Open Door Network. “We will support multiple sustainable projects that will literally ‘Open the Door’ for individuals who need access to safety, shelter, housing, case management, as well as mental and behavioral health services that are specific to the needs of the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.”

Victoria Rodgers

Victoria Rodgers is an editor and reporter for Kern Sol News. Born in Bakersfield, CA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Rockford University in Illinois. She can be reached at