KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A West Michigan motel will soon be transformed into affordable housing but not before helping people suffering from homelessness stay warm through the winter.
The LIFT Foundation closed on the Knights Inn Motel at 1211 S. Westnedge Avenue in Kalamazoo in early January. The motel already has around two dozen people in need living there for the winter months before they start renovations.
The foundation said that is something that was important to them as they make the transition to affordable housing.
"There is a housing crisis in this country which did not just happen yesterday. Kalamazoo is not immune from that," said LIFT Foundation Vice President David Anderson.
The affordable housing crisis is why the LIFT Foundation purchased the motel in the first place.
It's a plan they've been working on for two years to quickly address the need, something they said other cities across the country have been doing for years.
"It was the idea of what about buying an existing motel, and ultimately here is the plan: totally renovating it and turning it into 60 studio apartments, in other words, permanent housing," said Anderson.
The process already started, but renovations won't begin until April or May once the weather warms up.
"We are doing all of the work to create our construction plans. We have also gone through request for proposals and selected a contractor, and we will be putting this out for bid," said Anderson.
In the meantime, the space is being used by people suffering from homelessness and those who were already staying in the motel.
"We’re doing that to address an emergency, immediate need. That will carry us to the spring," said Anderson.
The renovation project is funded through large community donations and two loans from the city, totaling around $750,000. Anderson said he has big hopes for the building's future.
"It’s about a $4 million project between purchasing the motel, then remodeling it. We intend to remodel it to units that pop. This is not going to be poor housing for poor people. This is going to be very nice studio apartments," said Anderson.
The LIFT Foundation is hoping for the project to be completed by December 2021.
As they begin to finalize plans, the foundations said they will release more information on how people in need of affordable housing can apply.