$5 million in HUD funding toward renewal project for the Kern County Homeless Collaborative

Miranda Defoor, Reporter

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be giving $2 billion in funding to the United States. Out of the $2 billion in funds $5 million will be received locally. This HUD funding will go toward renewal projects for the Kern County Homeless Collaborative (KCHC), the local continuum of care. The KCHC is made up of several Kern County organizations with different specialties and resources for the community.

United Way of Kern partners with the KCHC to coordinate the HUD application and submission each year. All the organizations within the local COC apply for a renewal of a specific amount for their ongoing projects. These funds go directly toward the organizations. UW Kern does not keep the federal funds although their members pay fees and they accept donations.

“This funding alone does not solve homelessness,” Jessica Janssen, Homelessness Projects Manager said.

The majority of the HUD funding goes toward permanent housing and housing vouchers. The rest goes toward supportive services and case management. The housing vouchers, which are funded through this money, are how community members can gain access to housing.

The first priority of UW Kern and the KCHC is to provide immediate housing and meet the basic needs of those who are experiencing homelessness. Shelters are emergency and temporary housing, according to Janssen.

The goal is to establish stability and work with landlords who will rent to those who have been formerly homeless. They currently do not have complexes or housing specifically for previously homeless community members, but they do have scattered site housing which are apartments or houses mixed in with low income housing.

The Bakersfield Homeless Center supports at risk families and community members with shelter, meals, and resources like transitional housing, counseling, healthcare, and job placement. The California Veterans Assistance Foundation also provides transitional housing as well as permanent housing for veterans and their families if they are experiencing homelessness. The Mission at Kern County offers overnight shelter for men aged 18 and over, and provides transitional housing for those who go through a one year recovery program.

Any place someone may be in contact with someone else who may be homeless is a coordinated access point. Through these coordinated access points they can be referred through a quick referral tool to gain access to The Homeless Center for families, The Mission for those who are single, and the Veterans Assistance for veterans.

“It’s easy to lump people, but these are individuals,” Janssen said, “We need to remember that these are our neighbors and our community.”