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Bakersfield Homeless Center CEO Louis Gill walks through the grounds of the center in this 2017 file photo. Many needs  — a gas line, the roof, the cooling system and a sewage line to name a few — have been going unmet because of uncertainty over when the California High-Speed Rail Authority would acquire the property, an issue that has been causing some financial donors to pause in their giving. That issue now seems to have been resolved.

The Bakersfield Homeless Center finally has the game plan in place it has been seeking for seven years.

The emergency shelter on East Truxtun Avenue, situated in the path of the state's bullet train project, has reached an agreement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority to acquire the property, paving the way for a new, expanded facility elsewhere in the city.

The agreement, finalized in October and announced Tuesday morning, will allow for the homeless center to stay where it is for up to five years while the moving process takes place.

Only after a new facility is determined, and plans developed, is the homeless center likely to benefit again from community donations that largely dried up once it became evident in 2012 that any capital improvements would go to waste.

"Longtime donors and supporters have been patiently waiting for an answer to our future," said Louis Gill, CEO of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, the only emergency shelter for homeless women, children, and families in the city. "We will now be able to start having those conversations. We are starting to make plans that will allow us to better serve those in need in our community.”

High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly said in a written statement that the agreement, along with other matching funds, will enable the homeless center to relocate to a newer, larger facility "that can better serve families in need in Bakersfield.”

“Bakersfield Homeless Center is an integral part of our community’s safety net for families and individuals in crisis,” Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh said in a press release announcing the agreement. "I applaud the California High Speed Rail Authority for following through on this agreement and providing resources for Bakersfield Homeless Center to continue these essential services."

One of those plans involves moving the BHC Job Development Program to a property on Union Avenue, according to the Homeless Center announcement. The Job Development program employs current clients as well as other hard to hire members of the community and helps them build professional maturity. Currently, the program employs 75 men and women on 14 crews working in places like the Kern County Animal Shelter, highway litter and landscaping cleanup, and downtown beautification. 86% of Crew members employed through the BHC Job Development program are now in their own homes with their spouses and children. That’s over 500 people who have been able to create a new legacy for themselves and their families.

The specifics are undetermined for when and where BHC’s new shelter for women and children will be, but Gill remains optimistic about the future. “We are beginning to put plans into action. In the next few years, expect to hear about many exciting changes coming from us," Gill said. "As we transition into this new phase, we are hopeful that this community will stand beside us as they’ve always done.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to remove a sentence that was inadvertently attributed to Mayor Karen Goh.

(5) comments

She Dee

Something is definitely better than nothing, in my view. At least the homeless will have someplace to go to to get some relief from the everyday hate that the fine folks in the populated areas & business districts seem to have towards them these days.

BobPrange

The Bakersfield Homeless Center no doubt does a good job for the homeless. They have been around for a while and they are established. I do have a comment. If I am understanding this correctly, the city, the county, and now the Bakersfield Homeless Center are each in pursuit of building separate homeless centers at separate locations throughout the county. I don’t understand why the three don’t pool resources and work together to shelter homeless people at one location. There could be separate facilities for men and then for women/children at the location, if this is the issue. One location would be more cost effective and efficient in a number of ways (initial construction costs, meal preparation, coordination of services, and so on). For example, a central location would put less stress on those agencies that travel to and provide on-site supportive services (e.g.; mental health, substance abuse, employment readiness, budgeting classes). Do these supportive social service providers really have enough resources to be spread over three locations? Why don’t the stakeholders sit around a table and work this out before it’s too late. I guess I'm not understanding the separate efforts.

RuthTisdale

The only problem with the three entities pooling resources is the county and the city are building “Low Barrier” centers. The BAKERSFIELD Homeless Center is not a Low Barrier Center.

Low Barrier in my opinion equates to less restrictions and rules to follow which is a train wreck in the making

Jerry Todd

At least something good will come from the HSR debacle.

REMUDA

Boy, sure glad that's a done deal. I was losing sleep over . . . oh . . . wait . . . 'High-speed-Rail' . . . 'homeless' . . . ? I thought that was Gavin's prime deal . . . aside from gas prices, DMV fees . . . and oil spills . . . !

Oh well . . .

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