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ISAAC & TRHT Housing Task Force – “Asks” & YES Responses

Ask #1 – Housing Equity Ordinances in More Municipalities
Good evening, I’m Andrew Chaponda, I’m Ellen Nelson. I’m Brenda Henry. I’m Cathy Phason. And I’m Parker James.

Andrew Chaponda


Andrew – We have some celebrating to do!! The Housing Equity Ordinance–that ISAAC proposed at our Public Meeting two years ago—PASSED the Kalamazoo City Commission unanimously! This is transformational, because…



Ellen Nelson


Ellen – Although the U.S. makes up only 4 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25 percent of its prisoners! And nearly half of all children in the United States have one parent with a criminal record!



Brenda Henry


Brenda – In the City of Kalamazoo, an average of two evictions are filed each day, and nearly five a day in the County! Kalamazoo County has an eviction diversion program but you have to be ordered to appear in court, so you get an eviction filing on your record, even if you’re not evicted!



Parker James


Parker – The largest housing subsidy in the U.S. goes not to voucher holders but to wealthier homeowners, who are majority white and receive billions of dollars in benefits through the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction.



Cathy Phason


Cathy – We have such a long history of redlining, racially restrictive covenants, and more subtle discrimination, that although Kalamazoo County is only 11 percent Black, 60 percent of the county’s homeless population is Black–and over half are single women with school-aged children!



Ellen – But now, thanks to the Housing Equity Ordinance, people applying for housing can no longer be automatically rejected if they have a housing voucher, or an eviction or a conviction on their record. Now they will get a fair chance for housing, with consideration for their individual circumstances. The Housing Equity Ordinance also includes additional protected classes, protects renters against predatory application fees, and strengthens enforcement by creating a Civil Rights Board to review alleged violations of the ordinance.

Andrew – THANK YOU to Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin, who proposed this transformational ordinance to ISAAC over two years ago, and who has nurtured it ever since! Bravo! Thank you for using your family’s personal experience of
housing discrimination to improve the way the system works for many more people!

Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin


Vice Mayor Patrese – Good Evening. I’m Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin. THANK YOU to Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation and the ISAAC Housing Task Force for partnering with me, and to the City Staff who worked very hard on the details, and to every single one of the City Commissioners, for supporting the Housing Equity Ordinance!



Brenda – This is a big step toward creating the Beloved Community, where “policies and practices are infused with love, hope, equity and abundance!” But, this Housing Equity Ordinance only applies to the City of Kalamazoo!! What
about all the surrounding municipalities?

ASK: Parker – Public officials, candidates, community leaders from other parts of Kalamazoo County, please unmute your mic if you can answer YES to this question: Will you work to get a Housing Equity Ordinance adopted in your
own municipality?

Enthusiastic YES responses:

  • Mark Miller, Clerk of Kalamazoo Township.
  • Chris Burns, Portage City Council Member.
  • Mary Gustas, Comstock Community Center Executive Director, running for re-election to the KVCC Board.
  • Jason Knight, Candidate for Comstock Township Board

Vice Mayor Patrese – THANK YOU to all of these leaders for making this commitment. I would be glad to explain the ordinance at one of your meetings if that would help.

Ask #2 – “Homes for All” Millage Countywide

Stephanie Hoffman


Stephanie Hoffman – This is huge progress! But the Housing Equity Ordinance by itself doesn’t solve the need for more housing in our county! I’m Stephanie Hoffman, Executive Director of Open Doors Kalamazoo and co-chair of the Housing Task Force. Do you know already that there’s a Kalamazoo County Housing Proposal at the very end of your November 3 ballot! Check out our video: “Homes for All” VIDEO – 4:30 minutes.


Sholanna Lewis

Sholanna (Lanna) – Good evening, I’m Sholanna Lewis, Director of TRHT (Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation) at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. In 2015, when we saw shocking numbers of homeless children in Kalamazoo County, we came together to “Vote Yes for Kids” and we funded emergency homes for more than 500 families! But that millage ends next year, and there are still 700 individuals homeless in Kalamazoo County. Homelessness and housing instability continue to get worse because of COVID-19 and other issues related to economic and employment conditions.


Stephanie – The “Homes for All” plan was created by leaders of our housing agencies and schools, and the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners voted 9-1 to put it on the November ballot. It will help homeless families with children of all ages, older adults, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and “essential workers” risking their lives but with pay too low to afford market rents.

Lanna – If you’re working full time at minimum wage, you only make about $20,000/year, and if you’re on Social Security you might only get $10,000. “Affordable” means you don’t pay more than 30% of your income for housing, so on minimum wage, only $500 a month is affordable–for rent PLUS utilities. Too many people can’t even afford the housing that’s called “affordable.” “Homes for All” will create housing options of all kinds for people who are working, retired and on disability all over our County.

Stephanie – What does the “Homes for All” millage mean for YOU? The cost to a homeowner whose house has a market value of $100,000 would be $37.50 a year. That’s $10 cents a day! Small change, but a huge impact!

ASK: Stephanie – Public officials, candidates, community leaders, please unmute your mic if you can answer Yes to this question: Will you promote “Homes for All” as you continue to contact Kalamazoo County voters, and will you
encourage them to vote YES on the Kalamazoo County Housing Proposal at the very end of our ballots? You have 30 seconds.

All these candidates responded “Yes!”:

  • Jon Hoadley – State Representative – 60th District; Candidate for US Congress – 6th District
  • Mary Balkema – County Treasurer
  • Julie Rogers – Kalamazoo County Commissioner, Candidate for State House of Representatives – 60th District
  • Veronica McKissack – Candidate Kalamazoo County Commissioners District 5
  • Thomas Whitener – Candidate for County Treasurer
  • Anthony Bates – Candidate for County Commissioner
  • Mary Gustas – Executive Director of Comstock Community Center
  • Lisa Brayton – Candidate for County Commissioner District 11
  • Dr. Fran Bruder Melger – Candidate for County Commissioner District 11
  • Stephanie Moore – Candidate for State House of Representatives – 60th District
  • Jen Aniano – County Commissioner District 6
  • Christine Morse – County Commissioner District 9, candidate for State House of Representatives – 61st District
  • Tracy Hall – County Commissioner Chair
  • Meredith Place – County Commissioner and Candidate for County Clerk
  • Tami Rey – Candidate for County Commission District 1

Stephanie – Thank you to all these leaders! Everybody watching, please tell everyone you know to VOTE YES! Thank you for doing your part to build the Beloved Community.