BAKERSFIELD, CA -The High-Speed Rail train is on track to demolish the only shelter for homeless families in Kern County. The Bakersfield Homeless Center lies in the path of the project, but the facility is stuck in limbo.
The majority of people who stay at the shelter come from the surrounding neighborhood. It's unclear if the shelter would be able stay in the neighborhood if the bullet train puts its tracks down in Bakersfield.
Danny Miller spent his 6th birthday Thursday at the shelter. "We've been here off and on for about a year," explained Rose Miller.
"My oldest daughter has some medical issues so that's why we had to come and go a little bit. We are here because we fell on hard times, couldn't afford the rent," she continued.
Rose Miller said it's a temporary home that provides stability for her and her three children. "It's hard, but knowing that all my kids' needs are met makes it a lot easier," said Miller.
The center has been located on East Truxtun Avenue for 22 years.
"Last night, we had over 180 people that needed a place to stay. Almost 100 of them were children," said Louis Gill, CEO, Bakersfield Homeless Center.
"It would never be okay for us to be put in a position where we were not able to provide services for families," he continued.
The center is one of an estimated 1,800 properties that could be torn down to build the bullet train. "They are a business the Authority will work with in the re-location process," explained Lisa Marie Alley, Assistant Deputy Director of Communications, High-Speed Rail Authority.
"However until a route is selected, we can't have those conversations about re-location and compensation," she continued.
Gill said a new facility would have to be built near public transportation and schools. "They would have to negotiate with us, so that we could have another facility to move in prior to closing this. We could not have a lapse in services," noted Gill.
Gill said it would be difficult to find five acres of land and it's unclear if the shelter could stay in east Bakersfield. The re-location could leave families like the Millers, on the move again.
"It's going to be hard. If they stay in the same area, they might not be in the same school district. It will be hard on the kids I think," said Miller.
Gill said there is a possible silver lining to a potential move. He said it could allow them to build a bigger facility that's better designed for families.