Edison neighbors object to halfway house plan

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — There’s overwhelming community opposition to a new proposal to put a halfway house in Kalamazoo’s Edison Neighborhood.

The plan includes a 51-unit apartment complex for people recovering from drug addiction, people struggling with mental health issues and people charged with or convicted of nonviolent offenses.

The project, called 333 Alcott Street Recovery Housing, is the first of its kind in southwest Michigan, according to its developers from the Portage-based Hollander Development Corp. Judges at the Kalamazoo County Drug Treatment Courts are working with Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals, Community Healing Centers and Hollander to bring the plan to fruition.

When the proposal was unveiled to the Edison Neighborhood Association at a special meeting Thursday, the majority of residents in attendance felt no one was working with them.

“We already got enough drug dealers around. Let’s just say it how it is,” longtime resident Debbie Finley said.

She lives near where the proposed housing would go in. It would be built not on Alcott Street, but instead on a currently vacant lot on the west side of Belford Street between Bryant and Reed streets.

“Like a lot of people stated, they can look out their window and look at people who are doing  drug transactions,” Finley told 24 Hour News 8. “We don’t need more people that we know are coming from the court system and that might do drugs again.”

The handful of neighborhood residents who supported an apartment complex for recovering drug users were far quieter than those opposed.

Stephanie Wilson was one of the recovering users invited to the meeting by Community Healing Centers to discuss the benefits of the complex. A new mother who’s left behind a life of alcohol and heroin addiction, she said she was disappointed to hear opposition from so many people.

“I’ve never realized that people look at us the way that they do. It was hard to bite my tongue and kind of not tell them we’re human, too,” Wilson told 24 Hour News 8 after the meeting.

She shared details of her experience at Bethany House, a recovery housing center run by Community Healing Centers.

“There was dealers coming around when they first opened up and now they’re not because we’re stable in our recovery,” Wilson said.

Wilson countered the argument that there’s already too much drug temptation in the Edison Neighborhood. She said that people in recovery “need to be in the middle of that.”

“You’re going to end up going out to the world to your own place, no matter where it may be, and in that you can’t assume that there’s not going to be temptation,” Wilson told the crowd.

Next week, the plan goes before the Kalamazoo Planning and Zoning Commission, which still must vote to rezone the area before things can move forward.

Editor’s note: A previous version listed the developer as Chicago-based Hollander Group. We regret the error. The story has since been updated.

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