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Kalamazoo approves emergency housing rules

View of tents on muddy ground with large puddles, bushes in the foreground and trees in the background under blue sky
Leona Larson

Kalamazoo City commissionershave  approved an emergency housing ordinance. It allows service providers to apply for a permits to build temporary housing, including easy-to-assemble “pod” homes proposed by the nonprofit Housing Resources Incorporated.


It's part of efforts to help homeless residents who had been living in tent encampments until they were shut down by the city.

“There are multiple steps to get this type of housing off of the ground and this ordinance is step one,” Kalamazoo City Planner Christina Anderson said.

“What the emergency ordinance does is kind of lay the groundwork and say, this type of housing is permitted in this way.”

Anderson said the city attorney and city manager’s office have reviewed the plan.

“We have also been working with the building departments, with the fire marshal, to make sure that the parameters that are being put out there for the set development meet codes and safety requirements,” she added.

Anderson said her staff has studied temporary housing in other cities around the country.

“We have spent the last couple weeks doing quite a bit of research to make sure that we are setting this up for success,” she said.

There were protests before commissioners approved the ordinance on Monday, December 6. Some residents of the Edison neighborhood said they were concerned about rumors that a "pod city" would be built there. But city officials say neighbors will have a chance to weigh in before any permits are issued.

Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson warns that the ordinance is not a perfect solution to the homelessness problem. Residents living in the "pods" will be supervised and must follow certain rules, and Anderson says that may not appeal to everyone. Kalamazoo officials say they hope to have a more permanent solution to the issue by the time the new rules expire in late 2024.

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