KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Following public feedback, Kalamazoo city commissioners are considering moving forward with changes to an emergency housing ordinance.
In mid-September, city staff and commissioners heard from housing advocates and providers on the proposal. Since then, further revisions have been made to it.
The biggest change to the proposal deals with its phasing requirement.
Before, it would allow no more than 20 housing units initially, then require two city inspections passed before adding another 20 or less, which takes about a year. Now, the proposal instead requires one city inspection passed, cutting that time in half.
“At the end of 12 months, you could have either installed and/or occupied up to 60 units. Then, that cycle can continue for as long as … the project is (around),” said Sharilyn Parsons, the city’s housing development project coordinator.
Other tweaks to the proposal addressed inspections, liability and transparency over how the city is informed about such projects.
“For all facilities that have more than 20 shelters or will have some sort of phasing approach to them, the (memorandum of understanding) will be presented to the city commission for informational purposes,” Parsons explained.
What remains unchanged from the original proposal is when the ordinance would expire, which is still April 2029 instead of December 2025.
A proposed housing pod community of 50 units by Housing Resources Inc. depends on the ordinance, which will expire Dec. 1 if not renewed or replaced. Executive Director Michelle Davis was pleased by the revisions in the proposal.
“We appreciate very much the dialogue from the last meeting and the changes that are coming forth today that make this possible,” Davis told commissioners.
City leaders were also encouraged.
“I’d be remissive to not say that we need more organizations to get on top of this,” said commissioner Esteven Juarez. “We need more organizations to come together to figure this stuff out.”
“This is not specifically an ordinance written for one entity,” added Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson. “That was an important piece of all of this — recognizing that this is something that’s in place for any potential entity that wants to take advantage of this.”
City commissioners unanimously passed the proposal’s first reading. Its second reading, which would have the revised ordinance go into effect with a majority vote, could come as early as the commission’s next meeting on Oct. 16.