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Housing Task Force News

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“How is it going, discerning what change of housing policy you’ll advocate at the ISAAC Public Meeting in October?” “Can you come speak to our group about the policy changes you’re considering?”  The Housing Task Force keeps getting these questions!  The community is looking to us for leadership and is anxious to find solutions to our affordable housing crisis!

The answer is that we’re still in the middle of discerning.  We’re still listening to housing leaders for their insights on changes of policy or practice that would create equity and build the Beloved Community.  But we’re making great progress:

  • The Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation process includes working closely with leaders of the Fair Housing Center of SW Michigan, an affordable housing developer and housing agency leaders to heal our long history of housing separation. We’re building the deeper relationships we need and creating our vision and implementation plans for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation in our housing system.
  • At each Housing Task Force meeting we build relationships with people with housing expertise, and listen for their insights:
    • On April 2, Venessa Collins-Smith, City of Kalamazoo Compliance Specialist, explained the CDBG, HOME and ESG funds from HUD, told her personal story, and said we need Transitional Housing, which isn’t funded now by HUD.
    • On May 7, Laura Lam, City of Kalamazoo Assistant City Manager for the Foundation for Excellence, is describing her experience with Inclusionary Housing when she was a community planner in California, and giving her perspective on how Inclusionary Housing and other strategies could help solve our housing crisis here.
    • On June 4, David Anderson, Chair of the Kalamazoo County Public Housing Commission and Housing Director for Kalamazoo Community Mental Health, is giving us his insights on policy changes that would create equity, and Kris Miller, Executive Director of Fair Housing Center of SW Michigan, is sharing his insights and the progress of our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation work.
  • We need YOUR help on two ways to immediately reduce homelessness:
    • Ask any landlords you know to contact Housing Resources Inc (HRI.) Landlords can help solve the need for rental units for families all across Kalamazoo County, and HRI works closely with families and landlords to be sure everything goes well. Contact HRI at housingresourcesinc.org/contact-us or 269-382-0287.
    • Consider taking a high school senior into your family who’s on track to graduate but needs a home. Or ask someone in your congregation who might do it. Bethany Christian Services’ new initiative “Empowering Journeys: Helping Homeless Students on the Path to Success” will be your partner in matching a student with your family and supporting you on the journey. Call Anjali Durepo, 269-568-2546 with your questions.

On April 11 we spoke about our progress at the showing of “House Divided” (Norm Lear and Shonda Rimes’ film) given by the WMU Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnic Relations, and we’re speaking on May 9 at First United Methodist Church and to another group on June 9.  We tell everyone we talk with:

Come to the ISAAC Public Meeting in October to show your support for policies that create “a world where hope triumphs over fear, where God’s abundance meets the needs of all, where we live in sacred and beloved community” (from the ISAAC Covenant.) Watch for the date to be announced soon!

– Housing Task Force co-chairs Tobi Hanna-Davies & Stephanie Hoffman, Deputy Director of Open Doors Kalamazoo