Community Action Partnership of Kern’s (CAPK) new Safe Camping Site gives houseless individuals access to county-provided resources, while maintaining their autonomy and dignity.

In June 2022, CAPK opened the new Safe Camping Site– an expansion of the already established M Street Navigation Center.  

The M Street Navigation Center is a 24-hour facility providing its residents with health and hygiene products, shelter, meals, pet care, and more serving more than 1,200 unsheltered individuals. The Safe Camping Site is located adjacent to the M Street Navigation Center, but allows for more autonomy, which is often what prevents those experiencing homelessness from taking advantage of social services. CAPK Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Tobias states, 

“The safe camping and parking project is a unique way for us to provide shelter to our unhoused neighbors.

We are always looking for creative methods to remove barriers to housing because there is no single method to serve this population that works for everyone. We must adapt to their needs in order to succeed. The safe camping/parking site is one more tool in the Bakersfield Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative’s toolbox to assist persons experiencing homelessness.“

The Safe Camping Site is fenced and gated, consisting of 40 separate tent sites, as well as safe parking spots for individuals who live in their cars. Those who stay at the Safe Camping Site are provided tents, sleeping bags, basic material storage space, three meals a day, and functioning restroom/bathing space. In addition, there will also be onsite resources such as mental health and social services/referrals.

The Safe Camping Site will have two onsite staff members and two security personnel for extra support, aiming to begin building transformative relationships with those the safe camping site serves. CAPK Community Development Director Rebecca Moreno says, 

“CAPKs safe camping and parking project allows us to meet individuals experiencing homelessness at their point of need. Trust is sometimes difficult to give when you have lost everything. We are providing them a safe place to stay, making critical services accessible to them, and providing basic human needs.

While we’re doing that we have the chance to build their trust in us so we can help them chart a new course in life toward housing and stability. The safe camping site is critical to our mission to serve our community by providing options to homelessness for these individuals.”

CAPK is part of the California Community Action Partnership Association (CalCAPA). CalCAPA aims to create opportunities for its member agencies to create access to overcome the causes and conditions of poverty and help communities and families of low-income reach self-sustainability. 

“CAPKs Safe Camping Site is a creative real world solution to providing opportunities for families to become more self reliant,” states David Knight, CalCAPA Executive Director. “Without meeting the need for a safe place at the end of the day, it’s nearly impossible to overcome other needs for the process of rebuilding families.” 

CAPKs Safe Camping Site is exactly what Community Action is aiming to promote– innovative, alternative solutions to combating poverty. With the funding and support of community partners, Community Action Agencies can continue to be innovative in these solutions. Some of CAPKs partners include but are not limited to Kern County and the Kern Bakersfield Regional Homeless Collaborative.

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