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How does ISAAC Work?

Do you see “Task Forces’ Training & Research” near the top left of this chart? That’s where we are now in the ISAAC Two-Year Cycle.  We’re just about to head into 2018 and “One-on-Ones by Task Forces” (near the top right) to develop relationships with partners, choose a focus for policy change and ask public officials for support, in preparation for the Public Meeting next fall.

Does this process work? Most of the time!  There’s a long list of ISAAC successes at partnering with agencies, institutions and public officials to bring about positive changes in Early Childhood & Education, Youth Violence Prevention, Transportation, Racism and Housing–policy changes that match our faith values. Here is our Housing history as an example:

  1. ISAAC succeeded in getting the City, our State Reps and MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority) officials to come together in 2003 to listen to the Housing Resources, Inc. Executive Director and to talk with each other about their conflicting funding policies–resulting in MSHDA granting HRI funds to build Rosewood, their beautiful mixed-income housing, outside of a distressed census tract.
  2. ISAAC succeeded in catalyzing the County Commission’s unanimous decision in 2004 to grant the Kalamazoo County Public Housing Commission the power to own property and seek grants—eventually resulting in the low-cost housing the PHC now owns and administers.
  3. ISAAC introduced the idea of “inclusionary housing” to city and township officials in 2007 by bringing an out-of-state expert to meetings about the successes across the US of rewarding developers for making 10-20% of their new housing units affordable to low-wage workers and integrating them fully with their market-rate units—resulting in local officials’ support for the concept but no progress on units because the Great Recession hit and ended new housing development.
  4. ISAAC catalyzed FUSE (Frequent Users Systems Engagement) here by partnering with local housing agencies and hospitals to explore providing homes to frequent users of the ERs who are homeless–resulting in the current Bronson FUSE initiative.
  5. ISAAC played a key role, with many strong partners, in the successful housing campaign “Vote Yes for Kids”–resulting in the 2015 passage of the small, countywide millage that now provides a place to call home for 100 homeless families with children in the schools, each year.

Because of this history of ISAAC work on housing, all these housing experts spoke at the ISAAC Issues Convention on October 26, 2017, in support of housing being chosen again as an ISAAC issue:

  • Open Doors Kalamazoo Deputy Director Stephanie Hoffman
  • Housing Resources, Inc. Program Director Jennifer Welles
  • City of Kalamazoo Community Development Manager Dorla Bonner
  • Kalamazoo County Public Housing Commission Chair David Anderson

These experts said that ISAAC‘s way of working is needed again on housing. There is a gap of 3000 affordable units in our community, and there were 176 children at the Gospel Mission one night this past summer–the work is urgent!   ISAAC is needed because of our process, our way of working–bringing people together to discern and support new solutions to create equity and build the Beloved Community.

– Tobi Hanna-Davies, Housing Task Force Co-Chair with Stephanie Hoffman