A new publication is highlighting the issue of homelessness in Kalamazoo County. The Homefront is a 24-page magazine based on 12 months of reporting.
Publisher Ben Lando says that year's-worth of work found a lot of problems. He says they include a lack of action by the County to better coordinate efforts to end homelessness.
"That has to happen. We need something that overarches the municipalities because there are borders but they mean squat when it comes to homelessness. If you're homeless and you live in Portage, and all of a sudden you become homeless for whatever reason and you need services, you're going to migrate into the City of Kalamazoo because the services are concentrated there."
Lando says the are a number of groups, organizations, and government agencies working on the issue of homelessness in Kalamazoo County, but...
"The Homefront refers to those as 'tacticians,' entities that are involved in some of the parts of this. But without a broad strategy, then there's no way to fully harness all of those tacticians, all of the good intentions, all of the money."
Lando says that means someone, preferably the county government, needs to step up, "...and actually address this and say, 'we have a problem, we as a community, we as policy-making organizations, have not succeeded despite the fact that are a lot of organizations doing some of the good work that will be incorporated into what a strategy would look like.' That's the next step, admitting that there's a problem and addressing it that way."
The Homefront also looks at other aspects of the problem. Lead reporter Chris Killian says they include the disproportionate number of young homeless people who are LGBTQ. He says many are forced onto the street because their families can't accept their sexuality.
"Once that happens, they open themselves up to an unfortunate cascade of events. That could be the potential for human trafficking and sex work. It could be a marked increase in the possibility of suicide."
Another report in The Homefront covers four communities around the country that Lando and Killian say have done a good job building strategies to address homelessness.