Kalamazoo Township homeowners whose houses need repairs now have a new resource thanks to the cooperation of several local nonprofit partners and a new countywide millage.
Community Homeworks, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Kalamazoo, and Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services (KNHS) have secured funding from the first round of the new Kalamazoo County Housing for All (HFA) Millage for the Homeownership Preservation Partnership (HOPP) pilot. The three nonprofits are expanding their services to help Kalamazoo Township homeowners improve the health and safety of their homes with funding from the 18-month grant.
KNHS and Community Homeworks are partnering to streamline the application and intake process. As a result, homeowners only have to submit one application for repairs rather than working through multiple organizations. KNHS is focusing on exterior maintenance, such as roofing, and Community Homeworks is concentrating on interior repairs that improve the homes’ safety, such as plumbing, electricity, heating, and carpentry.
The initiative not only makes Kalamazoo Township homes safer but also allows homeowners to complete repairs they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.
“With funding from the County Housing for All Millage, we will be able to impact several families in Kalamazoo Township through critical home repairs that would otherwise go unattended due to the high cost of repair,” says Zac Bauer, LISC Kalamazoo’s executive director.
The pilot project exclusively serves low- to moderate-income families. Many of the families are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), as well as many single-parent households, elderly individuals, and other underserved groups.
For Community Homeworks, the pilot project is advancing the organization’s long-term goal of expanding services countywide.
“This is a large geographic expansion for the organization as we currently only serve the City of Kalamazoo,” says Chris Praedel, Community Homeworks executive director. “One of our top priorities in our strategic plan is to expand our service delivery area to the entire county by the end of 2024.
“The significant and growing demand for our services is not bound by township lines or streets,” Praedel continues. “We regularly encounter situations where a street or neighborhood is split by a municipal jurisdiction. A neighbor on one side of the street is eligible for our services, but a person across the street is not. The need does not know boundaries.”
Kalamazoo County government is happy the grant is allowing for more homes to be improved, says Mary Balkema, Kalamazoo County Government housing director.
“It was one of the goals of the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners to rehab the county’s older, owner-occupied housing stock,” Balkema says. “Many homes in Kalamazoo County have issues that require repairs. This is exacerbated by the fact that much of the housing stock is older than 50 years old.”