20190131-bc-homeless (copy)

Daniel Fleming begs for help outside of Costco in late January 2019. Homelessness was an issue that impacted all of Bakersfield in 2019. The photo was part of a collection recognized by CNPA.

Kern Project Roomkey — the Bakersfield-Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative plan to lease hotel space to temporarily house homeless individuals most vulnerable to COVID-19 mortality — has been postponed following negative feedback from the community, according to the collaborative’s governing board chair Deborah Johnson.

Johnson said the news of the project in the area’s proposed location — the Sleep Inn & Suites Bakersfield North, located at 6257 Knudsen Drive in north Bakersfield — was “not received well.” She explained that the collaborative is hesitant to divulge further details of the project as protecting the vulnerable homeless is their first priority.

“Homelessness is a very sensitive topic that can garner community support or resistance,” Johnson said.

Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard — whose district borders the proposed location — explained there was negative feedback from both residents and business owners in the proposed area.

He said when the collaborative explained they already had the money and resources to go ahead with the project, it "built up even more resentment" from people in the area.

"It made the neighborhood feel like it was being forced upon them," Maggard said. "It’s not the appropriate place and time in that area."

Maggard explained he's not opposed to the concept of the project, but suggested other areas the collaborative should look.

"I’m all in favor of transitional housing," Maggard said. "The way it was handled did not lead it to be successful there."

Louis Gill, executive director of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, said there's no more capacity to successfully isolate homeless individuals locally.

“The entire point of (Kern Project Roomkey) was there isn’t enough capacity for people to isolate,” Gill said. “We need the capacity. It’s one of the reasons we’ve been trying to put this together.”

He said during the process of getting the project approved and securing funds, they failed to get necessary support from the county government.

“We would need an allocation of funding from the county to pay for the rooms,” Gill said. “There are dollars set aside to address (COVID-19) needs in the county budget.”

Carlos Baldovinos, executive director of The Mission at Kern County, said he was hoping the project would get approved. The Mission currently has 16 beds set aside in order for vulnerable individuals — 65 years and older — to isolate.

However, he believes there needs to be more done assisting the homeless population during the COVID-19 period.

“It would have been good to have (the hotel rooms),” Baldovinos said. “I don’t know all of the politics behind the decision but I’m seeing (Project Roomkey) all over in California in places like San Diego and I don’t know why everyone isn’t doing it.

“I have the same question as to why we’re not doing it in Kern County.”

Deborah Leary, chairwoman of the board at St. Vincent de Paul Bakersfield, was never involved in the project but was aware of it throughout its planning stages. She said even her clients were aware of the project and interested.

“Even our homeless were asking us, ‘Have you heard anything about that (hotel) program?'” Leary said. “The homeless periodically ask about things happening locally. They do know what’s going on.”

Leary said she regularly keeps up with her clients if they or anyone they know has been sick or exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. Thankfully, she said, none of the homeless on Baker Street have appeared ill.

Gill said not having additional options for isolation if needed are a “public health and public safety issue.” However, he was optimistic for the collaborative’s prospects moving forward.

“Those of us in crisis service are really good at a pivot because people need to be helped and the community needs to be safe,” Gill said. “We will find a solution.”

Johnson said there's been frustration among the local homeless veteran population who have seeked housing after being possibly exposed to COVID-19. She said the collaborative is tracking anyone that may have had an exposure to COVID-19 or has tested positive.

“I think we all anticipated that we would see cases at the beginning and we didn’t, but now it’s starting a trickle effect,” Johnson said. “We have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

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(15) comments


Oh my! The Monster NIMBY "Not In My Back Yard" raises its ugly head once again!

Comment deleted.

V: a few years ago I said "there is a disincentive to fix a problem. If you fix a problem the money dries up." Why would agencies, or even so-called "non-profits" want to fix a problem 100% if you are in essence killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Instead, make the problem worse and the state programs and federal monies will keep pouring in so we can graft from those $$$. Let's plant thousands of acres of "hemp" around Arvin, a block away from Arvin High. Let's get $20k from marijuana collectives to petition the board for licenses and data, aka "cusultation" fees and a vote. Let's release 10k prisoners early into the streets for "safety's sake". Let's conveniently place pallets of bricks right next to the business district as we agitate the losers in life, so we can send a message to the privileged who don't pay enough taxes for our liberal programs.

Please VOTE in November. End the gravy train for these radicals. The left are losers. Vote for America.


Headline today June 13...

"Fort Lauderdale homeless put up in motels during pandemic refusing to leave as state's coronavirus surges"...

Masked 2020

so much hatred for the homeless in the middle of a pandemic.......grandma would say there's a special place in Hello for the Haters


Sorry, Mary Poppins....


‪Which Bakersfield?‬

‪► “It’s a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.” — Proverbs 14:21‬

‪► “Why don’t they get a job? — KNZR‬

Project Room Key is about protecting the lives of those most vulnerable to death by COVID-19. Isn’t protecting citizens the first responsibility of County Government? Better they die on the streets? Mike Maggard is all in favor of temporary housing, sure, just too bad there are no available locations. I thought conservatives are all about the rights of property owners, but now Kern County dictates who a privately-owned hotel is allowed to rent rooms to. Another black eye for Bakersfield hypocrisy.

All Star

There are 4 low end motels on Knudsen Dr. near Olive Dr. They are havens for drug addicts, prostitutes, parolees, and criminals. Stolen vehicles are routinely recovered on the streets nearby and the motel parking lots. Law enforcement routinely patrol the motels looking for suspect vehicles used in robberies, burglaries, and other serious crimes. Turning one of the motels into a place where the homeless can be housed is not a good idea. As everyone knows, many of these homeless people are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, have mental health issues, or are on parole from state prison. If I was a business owner or resident in the area I know I would protest against it.

Comment deleted.

Gee....I didn't believe you until I read it in all caps...

Comment deleted.
All Star

God, I hope you don't vote.... You are what is wrong with society.


Hodel's and Milt's, two long time family owned Bakersfield restaurants are right there in the same neighborhood. Their business already suffer form the clientele at the motels. Moving the homeless into those motels would only make mattes worse.


What happens to a Hotel when they begin to house the homeless? Families don't stay there anymore. Bedbugs move in. Drugs and crime also become regular guests. A hotel owner has the right to protect his/her property from all the problems that arrive when the homeless move in. There was a homeless motel across the street from the old Thrifty Drug on Golden State and F Street. My sister was at the drugstore with her children, when a homeless woman from the motel came up and tried to take her baby. The woman had a death grip on her. The manager of Thrifty saw what was happening and came to my sisters aid. It just isn't safe.


Very True, RubySue....but politically incorrect....


What would Jesus say?


He’d tell the homeless to go live with dweeb. That’s what Jesus would say.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Says the avowed Atheist...


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