Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell gave his final "State of the City" address Thursday, June 13. After 12 years as mayor, Hopewell isn't running for re-election this fall. Inside the still unfinished Exchange building downtown, Hopewell said the city is committed to "shared prosperity."
Hopewell says sharing that prosperity more equitably includes creating more affordable housing in the city.
"Affordable housing is vital to the success of our city, it is. And we will be working hard to provide to more units in this community and to provide more safeguards so people can afford to live here in their homes." Hopewell also said the city is working with organizations like the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in areas like youth development and creating jobs.
"We are now supporting 11 new small businesses with grants and loans totaling $250,000 for business development and building improvements: new businesses in our neighborhoods creating entrepreneurs, creating examples, creating role models, creating a better Kalamazoo."
Before the speech, Hopewell got a video introduction by Comedy Central star, and Kalamazoo native, Jordan Klepper.
During his address, Hopewell called Kalamazoo is a "perfectly imperfect city." But he says it's trying to do better. He says the relationship between the city's Public Safety officers and residents is one example of improvement after the department changed the way traffic stops are conducted. That followed a study that said Kalamazoo officers engaged in racial profiling.
"KDPS is now evaluating methods and procedures to determine the impact that these changes have made. Striving to be better every single day. Not perfect, never will win all days, but striving to be better every single day."
Hopewell also says the city is working on a plan to finish its Foundation for Excellence. It needs to raise $500 million by the end of the year for the fund that covers property tax cuts and poverty reduction programs.
"The plan will be completed this month and will provide targets and goals for reaching out to foundations and organizations and individuals at the national and the local level. And we anticipate great progress on this by the end of the year."
Hopewell says he plans to remain involved in the community after his time as mayor is over.