For nearly two years, the City of Bakersfield has worked to address the growing homeless crisis and its impacts on the rest of the community.
On Tuesday, October 20, a major step in those efforts was taken with the soft open of the Brundage Lane Navigation Center (BLNC), which will offer wrap-around services, putting clients on a path to future permanent housing.
The facility - located at 1900 E. Brundage - is expected to open for service on Monday, October 26, and immediately begin accepting adult clients based on a referral system. Among the services offered include on-site mental health and medical care, job training and placement programs, a full-sized commercial kitchen, laundry services, and as many as 150 beds for clients.
The BLNC is considered a low-barrier facility, allowing clients with partners, pets and possessions. Oftentimes those factors can lead to homeless individuals and couples to decline going to a shelter or navigation center. By removing these "barriers," the City hopes to serve more clients and get them the help they need.
"We expect this facility to be a prototype facility that will be a model around the Country," said Assistant City Manager Jacqui Kitchen, a co-lead for the BLNC project. "The BLNC demonstrates our community’s commitment to making a difference in the lives of those in Bakersfield."
The facility is the product of thousands of hours of work by City of Bakersfield employees, operator Mercy House, and partner agencies such as California Water Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Pacific Gas & Electric. On-site providers and partners include Kern Medical, Kern Behavioral Health, and Kern Human Services.
Recently, homelessness has grown quickly in the Bakersfield area, with the 2020 annual Point-In-Time Count identifying nearly 1,600 homeless individuals.
"To those who say 'This is a band aid.' Yes, it is," said Councilmember Andrae Gonzales (Ward 2). "It's going to stop the bleeding. It's going to help start the healing. We're going to do more and go farther."
After an extensive search at the direction of the City Council in September 2019, staff identified and recommended the purchase of the CalCot facility, a 17-acre property which included nearly 70,000 square feet of warehouse and office space. The purchase of the property was approved by City Council in January 2020.
"This is a great day in our community as we work to address homelessness," Mayor Karen Goh said prior to cutting the ribbon for the facility. "The success of the BLNC will be heard, and that will truly be the Sound of Something Better."