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Kalamazoo Township police help residents move out of homeless encampment on city's property

Homeless Encampment in Kalamazoo Township
Posted at 4:41 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-01 15:33:49-04

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Another homeless encampment is being cleared out.

It marks the fourth location in Kalamazoo County to close in a little over a year.

Signs were posted on Thursday morning inside the wooded area of Kalamazoo Township near Charles and Arthur avenues.

The city, who are the owners of the land, put them up giving residents a notice they needed to clear out by Friday.

The Kalamazoo Township Police Department arrived around 1:30 p.m. to help get the property evacuated.

READ MORE: Kalamazoo plans to close Mills Street homeless encampment

"Majority of us, we have no choice, and since we are out of the view of town, why is it a big deal?" asked William Valkema, who lives at the encampment.

Valkema said he has been homeless since he was 19 years old, moving from camp to camp. Once again, he is expected to move.

"When this stuff started, the city was complaining. They wanted the homeless and their stuff out of sight and out of mind. Once we got comfortable in Tent City, they kicked us out," said Valkema.

Residents said the shelters don't provide them the freedom to feel independent and don't allow dogs. That's why many said they have chosen to live at the encampment.

READ MORE: KDPS clears homeless encampment on private property in Kalamazoo

Neighbors in the area were begging for action to be taken, telling FOX 17 it has become a nuisance.

"They’ve already been here for more than six months. It started with one guy or two guys. Now, it is like 12 people," said Tony Garate, who owns a home near the encampment.

Tents, clothing and other items are strewn throughout the area — both within the encampment and in the neighborhood.

"My worry is all the trash around the neighborhood. I don’t know what they’re doing there inside. I know they are camping and are looking for a place to live, but this is not the place for that reason," said Garate.

The city of Kalamazoo released a statement regarding the notice to vacate.

Occupants at an encampment on property belonging to the City of Kalamazoo, near the intersection of Arthur Ave and Charles Ave in Kalamazoo TWP, were given notice by City of Kalamazoo Staff that they must leave the property by Friday, April 29. City staff provided resources and services for people experiencing homelessness to the occupants of the encampment.

The City of Kalamazoo is working with its partners at the Township of Kalamazoo to ensure the area is vacated and coordinate clean-up efforts.

- Jay Shatara, City of Kalamazoo Spokesman

"They are fighting and getting between each other. We have to call the cops to come over and check those guys. We don’t want the people around the neighborhood," said Garate.

The evacuation of residents remained very peaceful, and KTPD helped them bring their belongings out of the encampment.

READ MORE: Kalamazoo homeless encampment residents get ready to move following closure announcement

The Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries said their doors are open to anyone being displaced from the encampment. They told FOX 17 they have around 400 total beds, with around 250 currently open.

Ministries with Community also said they're willing to help any of the residents who need food, to do laundry or need a shower.

Kalamazoo Township Encampment Cleared Out

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