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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Help coming for those affected by virus


Last updated 9/27/2020 at 4:58am | View PDF

Residents struggling to pay their rent or mortgage now can apply for assistance.

The program, sponsored by the Bakersfield Homeless Collaborative, Community Action Partnership, and the Housing Authority of Kern, is geared toward Kern County residents who have been impacted by the pandemic.

Residents can receive a one-time payment up to $5,000 paid directly to the mortgage company or landlord. To be eligible, the resident must pay at least 30% of their income toward housing and may have a household income up to 80% of the area median income.

Eligible residents must have a rental contract or mortgage in their name to qualify. Stephen Pelz, executive director of the Housing Authority of Kern, said, “Covid-19 has upended the lives of many Kern County families and put many of our neighbors at risk of losing their homes. Thanks to the City of Bakersfield and County of Kern, our COVID-19 Rent and Mortgage Payment Assistance Programs will help ease some of the instability these households are experiencing, so they can focus on staying safe and healthy.”

For more information on the program you can call 2-1-1.

In Shafter, the number of new cases grew to 1,243, with over 750 of those cases confirmed as recovered.

Local schools are in the first quarter, with all of the schools practicing distance learning. All students were equipped with laptops computers, as well as access to the internet to allow the students to participate in the distance learning programs. Students are led through their lessons by a teacher virtually and the school is able to track students’ progress in their work, as well as monitoring an attendance program that keeps records of those students who are attending and participating in the classroom sessions.

The local school districts are preparing for students to return to campus, with the state mandating certain students to be allowed to return to on-site instruction. Facing the possibility of a lawsuit, districts are implementing a “cohorts” plan that will allow up to 16 students to form one group, which will be taught by the same teacher for the entire day. Throughout the day, the same group of students and teacher would be together, keeping track of the contact trail by limiting the exposure of the students to staff and other students.

“We are preparing for the return of our Special Needs students, which has been mandated by the State of California. We have the safety and health of our students as our first priority, which we feel we have accomplished with our plan,” said Richland School Board President Deanna Rodriguez-Root. “Our main goal for this school year is to bring our kids back on campus, to be with their friends and teachers, in a safe and responsible manner.”

On the business scene, the situation is still the same as last week, with the majority of the businesses adhering to county and state guidelines, enforcing the mask policy and limiting service to take-out and outdoor dining for restaurants, and by appointment only for those businesses that have personal interactions with customers. An example of this policy is the city of Shafter, who is serving residents while keeping the city buildings closed to the public. A window in the back of the building is being used to serve customers, as well as other departments, such as the Planning Department and Animal Control, among others, serving the public by an appointment only basis.


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