Ordinance Proposal Seeks to Address Structural Racism and Inequities in Housing

 

The Kalamazoo City Commission will meet for a Work Session on Monday, February 24 to discuss proposed ordinance changes seeking to address structural racism and inequality in housing. The work session will be held in the Community Room at City Hall (241 W South Street) starting at 6pm.

The proposal would update Chapter 18 of the Kalamazoo Code of Ordinances, which addresses Community Relations and Discrimination, to eliminate blanket housing rejections for any demographic. Among the changes proposed would be new protections for people using housing vouchers or county identification cards, as well as those who have previously been incarcerated. Additionally, rental housing application fees would be regulated, and a civil rights board would be established to review contested cases of discrimination that would come under the purview of the ordinance.

“It is necessary to address access and barriers to rental housing,” stated Kalamazoo Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin, who is introducing the proposal. “Too often the conversation is only about affordability and not on the reality that even people who have jobs, income, or housing subsidies are still being denied access. This will also help to ensure that landlords and property managers are abiding by applicable ordinances and treating all renters fairly.”

This proposal is a collaboration between several community partners with expertise and firsthand experience in these areas, including the Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community (ISAAC), and Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Kalamazoo. At ISAAC's 2018 public meeting, elected officials and public leaders in attendance agreed that updates were needed to address these issues and committed to supporting these changes.

"We developed these ordinances using powerful local voices and testimonies directly from those most impacted by inequity," said Dr. Charlae Davis, executive director of ISAAC.

In 2018, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) awarded an Innovation fund grant to community organizations in Kalamazoo through the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). The grant funded community engagement and data collection to better understand housing issues in the Kalamazoo area, and the engagement from the GARE work strongly supports the concerns addressed in this ordinance. The partner organizations include the City of Kalamazoo, MDCR, ISAAC Kalamazoo Housing Task Force, Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, and the TRHT initiative hosted by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.  

If adopted, this would be the first major change to address housing issues in Kalamazoo since gender identity and sexual orientation were added as local protections in 2009. Similar ordinances were adopted by the City of Grand Rapids in August 2019. 

"Homelessness and affordability are central to the dialogue around housing in our community, but a key issue related to this is discrimination," said Sholanna Lewis, director of TRHT Kalamazoo. "If we don't address these systemic issues, people in our community will continue to be at risk of experiencing homelessness and housing instability."

 

pdf Chapter 18 Ordinance Update Summary (169 KB)

pdf Chapter18 Change Comparison (Redline) (314 KB)

 

About Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Kalamazoo, hosted by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, is a community-based movement to bring about transformational and sustainable change to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. Kalamazoo is one of 13 TRHT locations nationwide, and one of four in Michigan (the others include Flint, Lansing, and Battle Creek). TRHT was launched in 2016 by W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Learn more at www.trhtkzoo.org.  

About Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community

Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy & Action in the Community is an interfaith, community organizing network of diverse congregations, organizations, and strategic partners working together to build the Beloved Community in Kalamazoo County. ISAAC understands that we must be united in order to accomplish what cannot be easily done as individuals or single organizations. ISAAC’s current work includes the following social justice issues: housing, community violence, anti-racism, and gun violence.

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2020 Historic Preservation Awards of Merit Nominations Accepted through March 16, 2020

 

The Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission (KHPC) is currently accepting nominations for the 2020 Historic Preservation Awards of Merit. The awards recognize individuals or institutions that have done an outstanding job of rehabilitating a historic structure or have actively promoted or contributed to historic preservation in the city of Kalamazoo.

Community members are invited to nominate worthy candidates in any or all of the following categories:

  • Individuals or institutions whose day-to-day, general preservation activities merit significant recognition OR who, as stewards of a historic property, have demonstrated excellence in ongoing preservation by the use of timely maintenance and repair.
  • Residential Property projects – demonstrate outstanding, completed exterior restoration or rehabilitation work or new sympathetic infill construction.
  • Commercial/Institutional/Government Property Projects - demonstrate outstanding, completed exterior restoration or rehabilitation work or new sympathetic infill construction.
  • Mixed Use (commercial and Residential or others) Property Projects - demonstrate outstanding, completed exterior restoration or rehabilitation work or new sympathetic infill construction.
  • Infill or new construction which complements the historic character of the surrounding buildings.

New Categories for 2020

  • Interior Rehabilitation – nominations in this category must have the owner’s permission and the nominator must be able to facilitate a viewing by the judges. “Before” photos are especially important in this category.
  • Innovative Solutions in Preservation - Award recognizes an outstanding and creative example of adaptive reuse, incorporating sensitive and creative solutions to issues of sustainability, and integration of accessibility improvements.
  • Archaeology Award - Award is open to individuals, institutions, or organizations, public or private, who merit recognition for their contributions to the preservation of Kalamazoo’s archaeological heritage.

Community members can submit as many separate nominations as they wish. Honorees will be announced and awards will be presented at a ceremony during National Preservation Month in May 2020.

To be eligible for nomination, projects must be located in the City of Kalamazoo and have been completed within the past five years, with the work substantially completed by February 29, 2020. The commission is especially seeking projects outside the currently designated historic districts. Rehabilitation projects should comply with the Secretary of the Interior Standards.

pdf 2020 HPC Awards of Merit Nomination Packet (469 KB)

Completed nominations can be submitted to Sharon Ferraro, City of Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Coordinator by mail or in person to 245 North Rose, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Nominations are due by Monday, March 16, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

For questions, please call Sharon Ferraro at (269) 337-8804 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Student Youth Mobility Fund Access Restored for All Metro Riding Hours

Youth Mobility Fund partners are pleased to announce that Youth Mobility bus passes will once again be honored during all Metro operations hours beginning the morning of Monday, February 3. This concludes the pause that has been in effect for the passes between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Students will continue to use their school-issued ID cards that have been validated with a sticker and opt-in form through the end of this school year, a system that was put in place in November 2019 to address technical limitations of the initial bus cards. The opt-in forms can be turned in to the administration office at the four schools (Norrix, Central, Phoenix, and KILP) for a validation sticker until June 1. Passes remain valid until new cards with improved technology are issued next school year.

The founding program partners, Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS), City of Kalamazoo, and Metro, as well as new program partner, the Kalamazoo Youth Development Network (KYD Network) are committed to the original vision of the program, “To get young people where they need to go in Kalamazoo so they can get where need to go in life.”
The program partners encourage everyone in the community to help support a positive rider experience on Metro buses and to contact Metro directly by telephone or email for the most current and complete answers to concerns or questions.

A Growing Partnership
The partners are taking major steps to improve the program by building and deepening relationships in the community. “We started out thinking this was just about transportation but learned quickly that it is really about youth development in a larger sense,” said Steve Brown, Coordinator of the program’s supporter, The Foundation for Excellence. Brown went on to say, “KYD Network stepped up to offer vision and leadership around centering youth input, including organizing a Youth Mobility Affinity Group to meet moving forward.” The first meeting attracted 42 people, mostly students, providing feedback and ideas on the program. Future meetings are announced through the KYD Network’s Facebook page and elsewhere. The partners will focus their attention on gathering input, expanding outreach, and implementing program improvements over several coming months.

Youth Mobility by the Numbers
Since the beginning of full operations in August 2019, over 120,000 trips have been taken on Metro buses by 9 through 12 grade students at Loy Norrix, Kalamazoo Central, Phoenix, and Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program (KILP). This represents 12% of all Metro ridership. A non-scientific online survey of young riders conducted by Metro this winter received over 1,000 responses, with approximately 70% coming from Central and 30% from Loy Norrix. Approximately 50% responded that they used the bus pass, with 64% using it for after school activities, sports, and tutoring; 37% to travel to and from work; 31% to travel to and from school. Over 50% students reporting using the pass multiple times daily.

 

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.

Contact

 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 (269) 337-8047
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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