More affordable housing units are heading to Bakersfield, including projects aimed at the homeless: Housing Authority

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – More housing is heading to Bakersfield, starting with two new projects set for M Street and Niles Street.

“We need thousands and thousands of units,” said Steven Pelz, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Kern.

Pelz shares that these projects show more effort in addressing the affordable housing crisis in the city.

“We’re doing what we need to do to meet the need, but the need is just overwhelming at times because of the high cost of rent in our community and high cost of utilities,” said Pelz. “Which is an important part of housing. This time of year, people’s PG&E bills are tremendous, and if you’re extremely low income, you have to choose whether you’re going to pay your PG&E bill or your rent.”

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According to Pelz, after the city received around $800,000 in federal funding, a vacant lot on M Street is set to be transformed into a four-plex later this fall. The four-plex will serve those experiencing homelessness.

“These are very low-income households, sometimes with no income. It’ll be a mix of households, sometimes with 30% of median income or less,” said Pelz. “Some households can have higher income levels, but because of the population we’re serving it’s likely that all of the households will be extremely low-income.”

The Niles Street Project will have 50 units set aside for low-income households, made up of mostly the tenants from the plaza towers near Valley Plaza. The Housing Authority is in the process of getting funding for two new developments that would replace the existing plaza towers property. The project is still in the works and could begin construction in the coming months, according to Pelz.

Aside from both projects, more housing is on the way with 400 units in the pre-development stages and 300 units under construction at multiple sites, according to Pelz.

“I think it really encourages the people who live there that somebody does care about my neighborhood,” said Pelz. “So, I think it really helps the neighborhood out and kind of changes the narrative from disinvestment to investment.”

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