DOD Construction's Chief Executive Officer Derrick Dickerson had an empty housing facility as far east as you can go along Edison Highway while still being in Bakersfield.
He also had a vision for men who, like himself, had served time in a correctional institution: "If I can get them here, I can get them trained and I can get them back into society."
And he didn't mind starting small ("One by one and two by two," he said) on his way to giving shape to his vision.
On Tuesday, July 10, this vision was handsomely revealed to about 40 guests from various social service agencies who attended the Open House for New Life Recovery and Training Center on the southeast corner of Edison Highway and Sterling Road (a little west of Fairfax Road).
The 40-bed, double-room-occupancy transitional housing residential and vocational training program for men ages 18 to 50, has an opening target date of September 30, 2012, and is currently taking referrals and applications for prospective residents who will begin to be screened in August. Target populations include emancipated foster youth, ex-offenders, veterans, men transitioning from homelessness, and persons receiving Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance.
New Life provides room and board for $750 a month for up to 12 months, plus six months of follow-up care. Program participants can also receive vocational training in construction (available for those up to age 25) or culinary arts (for those up to age 50).
The center is currently set up as a private-pay facility, but hopes to apply for funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Continuum of Care competitive application process that the Kern County Homeless Collaborative will be participating in this fall.
Although New Life is a program for men, two women have been propelling it forward at a quick and inspiring pace: project leaders Jan Casteel-Fleury and Sonia Jeffery have been heavily engaged with the Homeless Collaborative this year, attending especially the Housing, Homeless Consumers & Service Providers, and Steering Committee meetings in an effort to learn about the KCHC and HUD's expectations for new projects seeking funding.
In addition to board and care, vocational training and aftercare, other services available to New Life participants include: 24-hour supervised residential care; individualized case management; linkage to health and social services; substance abuse counseling; mentoring; academic educational support; assistance with community reintegration and family reunification; job readiness and placement services; and permanent housing placement assistance.
For more information:
- Call: (661) 366-8003;
- E-mail: Newlife1@newlifecenter.us.com; or
- Visit: www.newlifetrainingcenter.org.