Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The idea of "housing first" to solve the homeless issues comes under fire, an organization that feeds the homeless has its offices ransacked by its own customers (the homeless) and Assemblywoman Jasmeet Bains gets another challenger

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... HOUSING FIRST UNDER FIRE: It's been a long time coming but there is finally a growing and strong backlash to the "housing first" idea of how to deal with homelessness. Across the nation, and including here in Kern County, those dealing with the homeless have held that putting then in housing is all important, even though many street people are dealing with such addiction and mental health issues that they should not be candidates to live alone. But the idea of "housing first" has been our nation's

policy, and now critics are pointing out its failures. Listen to The New York Times on this issue: "
The bipartisan approach that has dominated federal homelessness policy for more than two decades is under growing conservative attack. The policy directs billions of dollars to programs that provide homeless people with permanent housing and offer — but do not require them to accept — services like treatment for mental illness or drug abuse. The approach, called Housing First, has been the subject of extensive study and expanded under presidents as different as George W. Bush and Barack Obama. President Biden’s homelessness plan makes Housing First its cornerstone and cites it a dozen times. But Housing First has become a conservative epithet. Republican lawmakers, backed by conservative think tanks and programs denied funding by Housing First rules, want to loosen the policy’s grip on federal dollars. While supporters say that housing people without preconditions saves lives by getting them off the streets, critics say it ignores clients’ underlying problems and want to shift funding to groups like rescue missions that demand sobriety or employment. Some even blame Housing First for the growth in homelessness." It is long past time that Kern County and others wake up to the fact that the promise of "housing first" was just that- a promise with no guarantees.

 * ... BAINS VS GONZALES: There's nothing like some inner party squabbling, old grudges and unrestrained egos to liven up the political season, and we have a doozy in the 35th Assembly District held by Dr. Jasmeet Bains. Bains is a Democrat, and a freshman at that, and you'd think the Democratic Party would be happy about that. But alas, old feuds and political grudges came into play and Bains is now being challenged by Bakersfield City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, who will challenge Bains in the March 2024 primary. If you remember, Bains had little problems turning back Supervisor Leticia Perez, beating her soundly, and one wonders how Gonzales plans to avoid a similar fate. (file photos of Bains and Gonzales)

 * ... JAMES ZERVIS: James Zervis has been promoted to the role of Chief Administrative Officer for Kern County, replacing Ryan Alsop who has taken another job in Napa County. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to hire Zervis starting August 5. Alsop starts his job on August 7. Zervis was appointed Chief Operations Officer by Alsop in March of 2000. Previously Zervis held jobs as a chief financial officer, treasurer and interim city manager in Shafter, as well as serving as the city manager in Wasco.

 * ... DOWNTOWN CRIME: The Burrito Project is a no-frills, volunteer-run organization that depends on donations to continue its mission of bringing a healthy meal to the homeless. So it is particularly cruel to think that this group that gives so much, has been hit so hard by the very vagrants and homeless it serves. The project co-founder, Belinda Lopez Rickett, told Turnto23 News that the group's downtown  offices had been hit a half dozen times, wiping out of the very food and necessities collected for the needy. "We don't have much, but whatever we have, they took, and what left we have, we're willing to give it away still," said Lopez Rickett. "We're still here to help. If they would've asked us, 'Hey, we want hygiene products,' we'd give it to them. There is no reason to steal from us." Since 2009, the Bakersfield Burrito Project has been providing food, hygiene kits, and other necessities to the homeless community in Bakersfield. The nonprofit has been broken into seven times just this month.

 * ...  CHICK-FIL-A: The second location of Chick-fil-A is getting ready to open at the Northwest Promenade. Company officials have tagged July 19 at the official opening date. This will be the second Chick-fil-A location in town, joining the popular first franchise at Stockdale and California.

 * ... GONE TO POT: Did you know that since 2012, 23 states have legalized cannabis for recreational use (including California) and three dozen have approved it for medicinal purposes?

 * ... PICTURE PERFECT: Check out this dynamic picture of the Merced River in Yellowstone, snapped on June 20 by Farhana Hamid for the My Home Is Californian (MHIC) Facebook page.

 * ... MEMORIES:: Lastly our friends over at the Kern County History Fans Facebook page posted this postcard image showing the old Bakersfield Inn during the 1940s. Enjoy.