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New campaign asks voters to help continue to fight homelessness in Kalamazoo County

"Homes for All" Campaign
Posted at 3:54 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 23:38:22-04

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — Election Day is just 40 days away, and there's a campaign in Kalamazoo County asking voters to continue to help fight homelessness.

The campaign "Homes for All" is hoping to pass a new millage that provides additional affordable housing.

Homes for All campaign organizers said there are more than 700 people suffering from homelessness in Kalamazoo County, but passing this new millage would provide nearly $50 million over the next eight years to create safe spaces for them to live.

"Homelessness is real," said an affordable housing advocate William Brown. "There is a lot of men and women out there that just need a chance like me and people to believe in me."

Brown said he was just one of the many people suffering from homelessness who got assistance thanks to a 2015 housing millage. That millage is about to expire, so the Homes for All campaign is asking voters to vote Yes once again in November.

"Kalamazoo, just like every other state, has been really, really hit hard when it comes to homelessness," said a co-chair for the Homes for All campaign Stephanie Hoffman. "We believe that as a community we are able to address that ourselves."

"What’s great is people will pay property taxes that are a little higher over the next eight years but we’ll have units that will be in our community for the next 40, 50, 60 years and have a long term solution to the problem," said a Portage City Council member Chris Burns.

The millage proposal would appear on the November ballot in Kalamazoo County and be in place for the next eight years.

"The millage rate is 0.75 mills, and for someone with $100,000 market value home, that’s $37.50 a year," said Burns.

Burns said if the proposal passes, they'll be able to create around 500 to 700 new housing units within that time frame, and it's not just catered to a specific group of people.

"What we’ve found out in the last five years is that children 0-12 need assistance, supportive services, and affordable housing; not only families with children but veterans, older adults, people with disabilities," said Hoffman. "So when we say 'Homes for All', that is exactly what we mean."

For people like Brown, affordable housing is a game-changer. "I now own my own home. I’m grateful for my future," he said. "I'm grateful that as I grow older I have somewhere to be. I don’t have to worry about ever being homeless again."

Whether you're planning to vote by mail or in-person, Homes for All campaign organizers are encouraging voters to vote Yes on their ballots to help provide more affordable housing for those who need it.