City of Kalamazoo to Work with Homeless Residents to Better Assist the Homeless

The City of Kalamazoo will form a workgroup to explore long-term solutions to reduce homelessness and increase options available to assist homeless residents in securing housing and other social services. The workgroup will consist of representatives from existing service providers, city staff, and homeless residents, and focus on coordinating existing services, identifying how different organizations can work together to better serve our community, and exploring new ideas that can create additional housing opportunities. The first meeting of this group is tentatively scheduled for the week of Tuesday, September 4.

This partnership is the result of discussions that have occurred during a protest encampment located in Bronson Park. Public Safety Officers, City employees, and homeless residents met on several occasions to discuss how the situation could be resolved and the groups involved could work together to reach a sustainable, long-term solution. City employees also coordinated with Ministry with Community, the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission to allow previously banned individuals to return, and arranged for social service outreach to occur during the protest.

The protest was sparked by proposed changed to city park rules, but evolved into a larger discussion about conditions for homeless residents.

“Kalamazoo is a generous and compassionate community, with many people willing to donate time and money to help people in need,” said City Manager Jim Ritsema. “It is important that we listen to the voices of those that we are trying to help. If they are telling us that the help we are offering is not working, we need to listen and work together to figure out what must change.”

To provide a short-term solution, the City of Kalamazoo will consider the former fire station at 116 Cedar Street as a limited public forum for 30 days, permitting individuals to camp at this location. This will provide an immediate option for homeless residents and time for the workgroup to explore alternatives. Individuals that choose continue camping at other locations in violation of city ordinances will be subject to enforcement action.

“I’ve been fighting for homeless rights since I was 17 years old, and this is the first time I’ve seen something that’s working together as a unit,” said Arthur Morlock, a homeless resident and member of the group. “Not as one person being bigger or better or big brother just pushing it under the rug.”

“We addressed the problem to the City of Kalamazoo, and the city is willing to work with us to set a precedent nationwide, starting right here in Kalamazoo,” said Stuart Hamilton, another member of the group. “Just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean that you aren’t human. You have rights and you can stand up for them.”

“I am optimistic that this partnership will lead to the postive changes that we need to help homeless residents get back on their feet,” noted City Manager Ritsema. “Although protests and demonstrations can be uncomfortable, I am glad that these events have ultimately brought us together around an important issue in our community.”

Kalamazoo County Amnesty Day Offers Help Resolving Minor Offenses

The City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Kalamazoo County 8th District Court, Kalamazoo County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department will host an Amnesty Day at the 8th District Court (227 W. Michigan Ave) on Friday, September 14.

Citizens of Kalamazoo will have the opportunity to address outstanding, low-level, non-violent misdemeanor warrants and charges with the goal of preventing incarceration. Criminal defense attorneys will be available to offer counsel to participants throughout the entire process.

Once participants have addressed their pending warrants and/or charges they will be directed to Bronson Park where social services agencies and other organizations will be available to assist in addressing some of the participants’ quality of life issues. Additionally, Michigan Works has volunteered to organize various employers looking to interview interested participants for potential employment opportunities.

Rev. Nathan Dannison, of the First Congregational Church (located at 345 West Michigan Ave. Kalamazoo, MI. 49007) has donated space in his church for sanctuary and court prescreening on September 14 from 1 - 5 p.m. The court will close its doors at 6:00 p.m. The court and prosecutors cannot guarantee that every case will be completed that day, but cases that cannot be accommodated will be scheduled for a future court date.

For prescreening at First Congregational Church, please use the main entrance on the Michigan Ave., the rear entrance is currently under construction.

Individuals that have a scheduled arraignment or other court date are not eligible for this this program. This day is for individuals that have outstanding low-level nonviolent misdemeanor warrants only.

Contact: Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley, 269 337-8270

Fall/Winter 2018 View from the Curb now available!

The Fall/Winter 2018 View from the Curb is now available online! Find out important information about programs for City of Kalamazoo residents such as Leaf Collection, Brush Collection, Hydrant Flushing, Recycling, and more! The most recent View from the Curb is always available at www.kalamazoocity.org/vfc.

The View from the Curb is published once for the Spring/Summer seasons and once for the Fall/Winter seasons each year. It is mailed to Kalamazoo residents and copies are available at City of Kalamazoo offices. 

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

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 (269) 337-8047
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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