KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo city commissioners voted unanimously Monday night to provide $1 million in federal grant money towards a future affordable housing project.

The funding heads to nonprofit Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services, which plan to purchase and rehabilitate 14 of those structures, 12 of them on the city’s north side. The known properties for the $2.4 million project are located within a 5-block radius on Ada Street, Clay Street, N. Edward Street, Elizabeth Street, Krom Street, Mabel Street and N. Rose Street.

KNHS director of construction services, Matt Milcarek, said future residents in these homes will be low-income single families who make 80% or less of the area median income determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Our mission is to revitalize neighborhoods and promote home ownership. This is us meeting that mission,” Milcarek said.

With the $1 million grant, the project’s remaining $1.4 million costs will come from “lending dollars, a variety of small grants, and KNHS capital,” according to Milcarek.

City of Kalamazoo Housing Development Director Sharilyn Parsons explains the condition of the houses allowed the city to allocate the funding from the American Rescue Plan to the organization.

“Through COVID-19, the structures themselves really took a hit — both just from the amount of care and consideration that went into the units, and also not having stable occupancy,” Parsons said.

Both Milcarek and Parsons added that rehabilitating and renovating are more environmentally friendly and cost effective, instead of demolition and a complete rebuild.

The project is also receiving praise from housing advocacy groups.

Tobi Hanna-Davies, who serves as co-chair of the local ISAAC TRHT Housing Task Force, said the investment is another step in the right direction, as Kalamazoo County housing millage funds are also in motion after being approved by voters in 2020.

“We’d love to see even more of it being used for housing, but it’s wonderful that that money is there,” Hanna-Davies said. “Good housing is the foundation for everything else you could dream of doing in your life. Can you imagine how hard it would be if you were trying to raise a family with no decent housing to stay in, to go home to?”

KNHS looks to have the properties purchased in three months, renovations finished by September 2024, and all units owned or leased by March 2025.